Team from Harlan Fire & Rescue & others head to East Coast


October 29th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

Five members of the Harlan Fire and Rescue Team left Des Moines early Sunday morning, enroute to Albany, New York, to assist with search and rescue and other duties, in advance of Hurricane Sandy’s arrival.

Members of the Harlan Fire and Rescue Team landed in New York, late Sunday night to assist federal authorities in Hurricane Sandy recovery efforts. (Photo from Jason Wickizer’s Facebook page)

Jason Wickizer, Emergency Medical Services Coordinator at the Shelby County Emergency Management Agency, said on his Facebook page, that he, along with Chad Kroger, Jordan Sanders, Andrea Systad and Ryne Nelson will work with federal officials to assist in the recovery efforts. Many of those same team members assisted in fighting wild fires in the western U-S in early August and September, and only recently returned to Iowa.

They won’t be the only southwest Iowans to offer a helping hand to east coast residents, though. Iowa utility crews have also been dispatched to the east coast, as Hurricane Sandy is expected to come ashore late today (Monday), causing widespread power outages in major cities. Tina Pothoff, a spokeswoman for MidAmerican Energy, says a team of MidAmerican lineworkers left Saturday morning. “There are 12 men that are part of that team (plus) one mechanic, one safety member and one supervisor to make up the team of 15,” Potthoff says. “We’re also released 50 contractors and 51 contracted tree crews that we would normally work with.” Authorities ordered tens of millions of people to evacuate the east coast Sunday as the gigantic storm is forecast to deliver strong winds, heavy snowfall and widespread flooding.

Potthoff says the crews from Iowa were told to expect to be gone at least a week, and perhaps two weeks, depending on how severe the storm damage is. “They’ve been dispatched to Poughkeepsie, New York and they’re going to be primarily set aside to do emergency service restoration work,” she says, “so that can include putting poles back up, stringing up wires again, replacing broken equipment.” The Iowa crew members come from all over, according to Pothoff.

“We have some men that are from Shenandoah, Sheldon, Red Oak, the Fort Dodge area, Rock Valley and Avoca,” she says. Forecasts indicate major cities like New York, Philadelphia, Washington, Baltimore and Boston are likely to get blasted by the hurricane. Schools have canceled classes, transit systems have been shut down and residents who live along the shoreline have been ordered to evacuate. The storm is massive and slow-moving, meaning sustained high winds will hit many areas and it will likely produce massive amounts of rain and snow once it moves inland.

(Ric Hanson & Radio Iowa compiled this information)