WNY Agencies Return from Hurricane Sandy Cleanup

11:29 AM, Nov 16, 2012   |    comments
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BUFFALO, NY - Many local first responders that went downstate to help that area recover from the destruction Hurricane Sandy brought have returned.

The pictures from Hurricane Sandy still leave us breathless.

For some emergency responders who worked 16-hour days while assisting storm victims in battered areas say they'll never forget some experiences.

We spoke to several members from Erie County Emergency Services, which deployed six people. 

"Where family members that weren't affected brought in dinner for the family members that were there and staying there so you saw people try to connect with their families in a time of crisis," said Tracy Fricano-Chalmers, a program director at Erie County's Department of Health.

Scott Patronik of the Erie County's Sheriff's Office says, "you'd meet people, you'd say goodbye to people, but it was difficult saying goodbye."

Jose Latalladi, who works for Buffalo's Red Cross returned last week from the hard hit areas of Long Island. The Red Cross continues to train new volunteers to be sent to help people who have lost everything there.

"Some of the most vivid things that I saw were people walking in with wet clothing, that they literally had nothing, from the time the storm hit, they had two hours to get their entire lives out of their house," he said.

Also returning after a two week deployment are about 90 members of the 107th Airlift Wing, which deployed out of the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station. The unit helped evacuate patients from Bellevue Hospital, which lost power and was flooded. It also removed debris at different locations in and around New York City.

Controversy now swirls around Long Island Power Authority, and how it prepared for and responded to the storm.

Officials from Western New York say they think all companies have worked hard to restore power.

"I saw plenty of crews, we saw crews from California, we saw crews from Texas, they're bringing in resources, however there's more of a dynamic than saying the power is not back on," said Dan Neaverth, commissioner of Erie County Emergency Services.

Still, hundreds remain in the dark. Even though some crews are starting to come back home. They all know there's a possibility they could be deployed again.

The airlift wing still has about seven people deployed. The National Guard says that it will have a presence in battered areas for months.

There were some crews also sent from Livingston, Cattaraugus, Genesee and Monroe counties. Some still remain there.

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