Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Disaster Response Team Goes to New Jersey.

 An update on the state of things in storm-wracked New Jersey. A friend from California wrote the following to me & I thought I would just pass it on as the effects of Sandy seem to have dropped out of our news reports and it was not only Manhatten Island that was so badly hit.

 'I just thought I would write to let you know that tomorrow I am being deployed to New Jersey with a Disaster Response strike team to help in the recovery efforts. I am the second team going in from our organization and will relieve the first team who have been there for about 10 days. Each team has a 7-10 day deployment, after which they have at least a couple of weeks off before going in again if necessary.

 Our base is in a town called Roselle which is slightly north west of Staten Island. We will work mostly on Staten Island which was badly affected by last week's storms, and still has had little rescue relief purely due to the fact that there is so much to do and so few responders. Staten Island has the highest storm-related death rate and many are still missing, presumed drowned. In actual fact thousands of responders have gone to help but there is just too much damage and progress is slow due to the high extent of damage to so many homes and flood waters are still hampering efforts to bring towns back to normal. Many people are in shelters or staying with their neighbors.

 Our base has no power but is running on a generator. It is freezing cold on the east coast at this time of year and another storm is heading their way which is predicted to hit tomorrow or Thursday. It will bring more rain and even snow this time but won't be as strong as the first storm. I have to make sure I fly in before the next storm front closes the airports again! I have all of my thermals and winter rescue gear so I will be warm enough and even though our team will be sleeping in sleeping bags on a cold hard floor - at least we will be dry and have a roof over our heads and homes to return to!!

Some of our work will be rescuing those that need it and feeding people that are homeless. Other work will be counseling the victims and other emergency responders that have been traumatized by the disaster. Many of the local emergency responders have been on duty non stop since the storm hit, purely because their routes home are still blocked and therefore their local replacements/shift mates' routes to get to work are also blocked. No one gets in and no one gets out of some places still. Many homes are badly damaged but the work is so plentiful that local handy men are struggling to keep up!
 One dear lady I know of still has huge tree that fell on to her roof, causing a big hole in the roof and lots of damage. She is huddled in one end of the house because she has no where to go but no one has been able to get to her yet to remove the tree because her situation just is not as urgent as others in her area. So there she is, with a new storm front coming in and a hole in her roof with no way to fix it in time to prevent new rains and snows from flooding her house. From what I gather she has no family close by and recently lost her husband!! Just one of hundreds of similar stories!  Anyway, that is what I will be doing and this is where I will be for the next 10 days or so.'

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