Emergency management officials from around the country have descended on New York and New Jersey to help pick up the pieces after Superstorm Sandy.
Among them is Eric Hodges, Illinois State’s director of enterprise architecture for Administrative Technologies. Hodges pulls double duty as chief of operations for the McLean County Emergency Management Agency, and triple duty as a member of the Illinois Incident Management Team.
It’s that Illinois team that arrived this week for a two-week deployment at the Suffolk County Emergency Operations Center. Suffolk County covers most of Long Island, which was badly battered by Sandy.
The hurricane-turned-superstorm killed more than 100 people in 10 states – mostly in New York and New Jersey – and knocked out power to millions.
Related story: Sandy’s impact touches ISU theater community in NYC
Hodges arrived in New York on Tuesday, his team staying in dorms at the Brookhaven National Laboratory on Long Island along with crews from the U.S. Forest Service and FEMA. Hodges and seven others from Illinois are now supporting the recovery effort’s Logistics Branch, helping secure and deliver water, meals, fuel, debris removal services, and other assets. (A second, separate team from Illinois is supporting the New York City Emergency Operations Center.)
“I spend a lot of time in public safety outside of ISU (and to a small extent within ISU) and I find it a very rewarding and fulfilling pursuit,” Hodges said in an email from New York on Wednesday night.
Hodges got to work just as the region dealt with a nor’easter moving through. That storm left 750,000 customers without power by Thursday, more than 200,000 from the new storm. Hodges said they saw horizontal rain most of Wednesday, followed by very wet, heavy snow in the afternoon and evening.
“Several areas that had just received power today lost it again, but those new outages were mostly short lived,” Hodges said Wednesday. “All in all, the infrastructure fared well today.”
The Illinois team, part of a roughly 100-person Suffolk County coordination team, spent much of its first two days in New York inside. On Day 2, for example, Hodges developed a written flowchart for procuring assets and a mechanism for tracking total costs per day and per vendor. It’s important work in a recovery effort that doesn’t need to be any more expensive than it already will be.
Hodges’ trip is similar to one he made in 2005 in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Then, Illinois’ incident management team was attached to the Mississippi Department of Public Health, which was coordinating medical response for the lower six counties in Mississippi.
“We coordinated medical supplies for the several hundred ambulances called in, supplied all shelters, cleared water ways, provided permits for restaurants to reopen, supplied tetanus vaccines and provided mental health services,” Hodges explained.
Ryan Denham can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.