As residents along the East Coast make their way inland to safer areas before Hurricane Sandy strikes this week, some Kansas residents are heading east to assist with preparations for the storm, which has the potential to be one of the most dangerous ever recorded.
Volunteers and emergency responders from a state Incident Management Team, Westar Energy and the Douglas County chapter of the American Red Cross will provide support before and after the hurricane hits.
According to the Kansas Adjutant General’s Office, the Incident Management Team, a group of emergency responders who can provide support with planning, logistics, operations, safety and finance/administration, arrived in Maryland on Sunday to work in the state’s Emergency Operations Center. The team will return to Kansas on Nov. 12.
Sandy is expected to come ashore tonight or early Tuesday along the New Jersey coast and then cut across into Pennsylvania and travel up through New York state on Wednesday. Rain began falling Sunday afternoon in coastal areas of North Carolina, Virginia and Maryland.
Westar Energy volunteers spent Saturday night in Ohio; when the weather clears, the team will travel to its final destination in Pennsylvania. The team of 44 linemen, supervisors, safety and support personnel will assist UGI Utilities and will help to restore power after Sandy has passed.
Douglas County’s Red Cross chapter is sending one volunteer, Rick Farrier. Farrier will be deployed for three weeks, which is part of the reason he is the only volunteer from the Douglas County chapter.
“There are very few who are in the position to up and leave for three weeks,” Jane Blocher, executive director of the Douglas County chapter of the American Red Cross, said.
Farrier is trained in a variety of areas including driving emergency response vehicles and bulk distribution; however he will not know his assignment until the day he is actively recruited to help. Blocher said she expects him to leave to help in the next day or so.
“Flights are very, very hard to schedule, so for now the only recruiting they (Red Cross officials) are doing for the next day or so are those within a four-hour drive,” Blocher said. “When the flight restrictions open up a bit, that’s when he’ll go.”
Cellphone provider Sprint, based in Overland Park, is preparing for the storm by mobilizing its network disaster recovery staff. The company is staging Sprint emergency response team personnel and resources to serve customers and lessen the impact to the network from the storm.
The Kansas National Guard is also pitching in by sheltering military aircraft in Topeka. Six KC-135 tankers and crews from Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland arrived Sunday at Forbes Field, according to a news release from Maj. Gen. Lee Tafanelli, state adjutant general and director of Kansas Division of Emergency Management.
“Kansas has been the recipient of a lot of assistance in the past, so we are happy to be able to help the East Coast in its time of need,” Tafanelli said. “We’ll continue to monitor requests from our counterparts in the affected states and determine what other assistance we can provide.”