Local Resources Aid Sandy Recovery

By Beacon Staff

Resources from the Flathead Valley and across the state are helping with disaster relief in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, which killed more than 100 people in 10 states and took out power to roughly 8.5 million homes and businesses last week.

Cities across the East Coast are trying to recover from the devastation, which is estimated to cost $50 billion, the second highest natural disaster total in U.S. history behind only Hurricane Katrina. States are struggling with severe infrastructure damage and fuel shortages, among other challenges.

Power restoration has been a top priority, according to the Pentagon, and a local company is playing a pivotal role in that regard.

Kalispell’s Nomad Global Communication Solutions provided 11 of its mobile command vehicles to the U.S Army Corps of Engineers. The vehicles were delivered primarily to New Jersey and New York where they are being used as on-site communication command stations.

The 45-foot-long “Command and Control” vehicles have telecommunication capabilities and can operate for up to 72 hours without refueling.

With the help of Nomad’s vehicles, the Corps has already responded to 25 mission assignments in areas heavily impacted by Sandy, primarily in New York City where the Corps is focused on flooded tunnels.

The vehicles recently appeared in a segment on the TODAY Show. The Corps teams assigned to “unwatering” the tunnels gave a tour of Nomad’s vehicles and explained the sizable challenges to arise in the wake of Sandy.

Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer announced that roughly 100 firefighters would deploy from Missoula and assist in recovery efforts. The group includes members of the U.S. Forest Service, Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation, Blackfeet Agency and Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes.

“This is not unusual or surprising that we’re heading to help and we are honored to provide assistance in this time of need,” Schweitzer said in a statement.

“While we think of our incident management firefighters as responding primarily to wildfires, they are often called upon for non-fire assignments.”

Crews have previously assisted with recovery efforts for Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and following the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

“They are trained to respond to all-hazard incidents, and we are ready to help with whatever’s needed in the aftermath of this historic storm,” Schweitzer said.

The Montana Conservation Corps sent nearly 40 service members from the state for a 30-day response effort. The crews will coordinate with the Corporation for National and Community Service and the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Their efforts will include removing debris, distributing food and organizing other volunteer efforts.

“This is an all hands on deck scenario and AmeriCorps members are uniquely suited to provide immediate assistance,” Mario Colucci, the MCC regional program coordinator in Missoula, said in a statement.

“They have a level of efficiency and skills that make them a great resource to bring stability and aid to the beleaguered people affected by Hurricane Sandy.”

American Red Cross has been holding several blood drives locally and across the nation as well as organizing personnel who could deploy to areas that were ravaged. More than 5,300 Red Cross workers are helping in communities affected by Sandy, according to the organization.

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