Pauls Valley, OK, Pauls Valley Democrat

November 1, 2012

Helping out after superstorm

Barry Porterfield
Pauls Valley Democrat

bporterfield@pvdemocrat.com — Volunteers from all over Oklahoma and the country have made their way to the east coast to offer whatever help they can to victims of Hurricane Sandy.

Included in the groups responding to the devastating superstorm impacting so many people in such a large area was the American Red Cross as one official here in Garvin County has been working to get available volunteers out to the areas needing relief.

Angielee Wright, a disaster response specialist who recruits and trains volunteers, said no Red Cross volunteers from this county have made the trip but plenty of others are there helping with things like shelters.

“This past Saturday we began reaching out to volunteers to respond to this nationwide disaster,” Wright said.

“We were checking on the availability of these disaster assistance volunteers,” she said. “There were a number of volunteers willing and able to respond to this disaster.”

With her main focus on a three-county region that includes Garvin County, Wright said none from here were available but a couple of others were sent from a neighboring county.

“Two from Pontotoc County were deployed with a number of other volunteers from the central Oklahoma region.”

According to Wright, at least one of them was sent to West Virginia, while several more Red Cross volunteers from Oklahoma were deployed to offer help after Hurricane Sandy finished with its damaging and deadly trail.

Their main job is opening and operating shelters at any number of locations needed.

“We station people out there in different locations,” she said.

“We put them in place and materials in place. Once the storm has passed they begin damage assessment and determine what needs are the greatest. They work with emergency management in different areas.”

Once volunteers do get out there they are committed to staying at a disaster scene for at least three weeks and maybe more.

“Once they get there if they have the time they can stay longer,” Wright said.

This week the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management (OEM) announced it was sending a 10-person operations support team to the state of New York to assist in the Hurricane Sandy recovery effort.

The team includes personnel from OEM, the Oklahoma Department of Public Safety and the city of Tulsa. The Oklahoma delegation will help support the state of New York Emergency Operations Center.

The team is deploying in response to an Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC) request from New York State Office of Emergency Management. OEM is monitoring additional requests from the affected areas.

Gov. Mary Fallin has also reached out to other governors whose states have been hard hit by the hurricane as further support is expected to be deployed.

Volunteers from the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma Disaster Relief have also responded to help in the impacted areas.