Bay Area emergency volunteers head to East Coast

August 28, 2011 6:24:23 PM PDT
Crews from the Bay Area are helping out with the cleanup and the aftermath of Hurricane Irene.

Emergency workers, supplies and volunteers from the Bay Area made their way east as soon as it was confirmed that Hurricane Irene had the mid-Atlantic coast in its line of sight.

Hurricane Irene was less forceful than feared, but the storm still packed a punch. In New York, rescue workers used a raft to save one person from flash flooding that overtook their Westchester neighborhood.

Thirty-four members of the East Bay Incident Management Team were mobilized and deployed to New York in preparation for Hurricane Irene's landfall. The group is part of the California Fire and Rescue Mutual Aid System, which is designed to respond to communities in need.

"We were asked to come in and provide planning and logistical support," said Melinda Drayton with the East Bay Incident Management Team.

The entire New York City transit system was shut down as a precaution against the storm's wrath, and residents who did not evacuate were asked to remain in place.

"Today, we've been working on creating a re-entry -- repopulating plan for the convalescent hospitals and the hospitals in the affected areas," said Drayton, "getting people who were displaced from those areas back in safely."

That's where other members, like Ann Herosy of the American Red Cross, will step in. The South Bay volunteer has put her life on hold for the next few weeks to help with relief efforts.

"We're prepared for disaster as it happens," Herosy said. "I hope that if my family were in need, some one would do it for me, those are the reasons I do it."

Herosy will leave her family behind tomorrow to fly east. She will have to figure out the last legs of her trip as she goes along because of the closure of several New York airports. Before leaving, Herosy will pack everything she needs to be completely self-reliant.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg thanked the residents for their cooperation. Bloomberg also expressed his gratitude to the emergency response teams from across the country that continue to help those in need.


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