DNR staff return from Hurricane Sandy relief effortMinnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) staff returned recently following nearly three weeks of service during the Hurricane Sandy relief effort in New York.
Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) staff returned recently following nearly three weeks of service during the Hurricane Sandy relief effort in New York.
DNR staff joined current and retired U.S. Forest Service (USFS) staff, and fire department employees on an incident command team, and two 20-person saw crews to represent Minnesota on the relief assignment.
“Buying gas for chainsaws and vehicles was difficult, citizens were panicked, and we didn’t have any power where we were staying, but that’s the sort of thing we’re used to dealing with,” said DNR Incident Command Team Leader, Brian Pisarek. “That’s what we’re trained for. Seeing it first-hand gives you a real appreciation for what those people are going through and just how long it’s going to take to recover.”
In anticipation of the storm, specially trained DNR foresters were mobilized Oct. 28 and prepositioned to assist federal agencies in the incident command, supply distribution and other emergency needs.
Sawyers with chainsaws worked long days in strenuous conditions to clear fallen trees and reopen roadways for emergency vehicles. Other staff assisted with the distribution of 800 semi-truckloads of emergency supplies including 1.6 million liters of bottled water, 1.3 million emergency meals, 35,000 blankets, and generators. Crews provided support in a number of locations including Brooklyn, Queens, Nassau and Sussex counties, and the hard-hit areas of Long Beach.
Because teams were called-in before the storm, they were able to set up and prepare for what was coming. However, the down-side was – they also experienced the storm and the obstacles it presented, obstacles that made their work more challenging.
Minnesota teams are known for their wildland firefighting skills, but are often called on to perform other kinds of disaster relief support including communications, supply distribution, dispatch, logistics and weather forecasting. Floods, blowdowns, severe storms, and even space shuttle wreckage retrieval make up a long list of incidents supported by Minnesota teams.
DNR is a partner in the Minnesota Incident Command System (MNICS). MNICS is an interagency group of state and federal partners that cooperate in the management of wildfire and all risk incidents and provide standard procedures, practices and information to facilitate, coordinate and support actions on incidents primarily in Minnesota and throughout the northeastern United States.
Member agencies include the DNR, USFS, Bureau of Indian Affairs, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Park Service, and the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management.