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NH emergency crews make way to Fla.

By PAUL FEELY
New Hampshire Union Leader

September 10. 2017 11:33PM
Boats are seen at a marina in Coconut Grove as Hurricane Irma arrives in Miami on Sunday. (REUTERS/Carlos Barria)



Utility crews and first responders are making their way to Florida to help with rescue and power restoration efforts after Hurricane Irma made landfall Sunday, with additional first responders waiting in New Hampshire, ready to answer the call if needed.

Three utility crews departed from Liberty Utilities headquarters in Londonderry at 5:30 a.m. Sunday, headed to Florida to assist with power restoration efforts.

“A hurricane can cause widespread damage to power lines and other electric equipment that would be too much for the local power companies to handle on their own,” Liberty spokesman John Shore said in a statement. “We are happy to lend a hand with an effort that could take weeks to restore power.”

Liberty Utilities workers Bill Ellis, Travis Singer, Travis Bouch, Rick Blake, Dave Fournier, Sean Clock and Pat O’Neil expect to arrive in southern Florida mid-week, when they will learn what area of the state they will be working in.

A 30-person team of Eversource linemen and support personnel who left New Hampshire early Saturday morning, headed for Florida, reached Maryland and then Virginia on Sunday afternoon according to Marc Geaumont, director of field operations with Eversource.

Crew members serviced trucks, changed tires, checked equipment and fueled up to prepare for the next leg of the journey.

The local utility workers will work alongside crews from Florida Power and Light Company.

Medics fly down

Four medics from American Medical Response flew down to Atlanta, Ga. on Sunday morning to help first responders treat the injured and transport patients and residents back to facilities such as hospitals and nursing homes.

Jeffrey Brule and Marc Beaulieu from AMR Manchester and Eric Henson and Dennis Shepard from AMR Nashua are expected to be in Florida for at least seven to 10 days, said AMR Regional Director Chris Stawasz.

“It’s not glamorous work,” said Stawasz. “They will pretty much live out of their ambulances, rolling along with a hundred or so other ambulances and a 10,000-gallon fuel tanker. They will fill up with fuel as needed right out of the tanker, and eat MREs (military-style meals).”

Stawasz said AMR maintains a list of 30 or so medics that have volunteered to go where needed during emergencies.

“We got the call late Saturday, and these four said they could go,” said Stawasz. “You hope there won’t be a need to send additional personnel, but if they are needed we are ready.”

Firefighters, Red Cross

Manchester Fire Chief Dan Goonan said he is working on a list of 12 firefighters who could be dispatched to Florida, if federal officials request additional personnel.

“Right now everything goes through the department of NH Homeland Security and Emergency Management,” said Goonan. “Right now no request has come through for us to send anyone, but that can change quickly so we want to have this list of available personnel ready.”

Lloyd Ziel, chief communications officer of the American Red Cross of New Hampshire remains in Houston, where he was dispatched to help run “megashelter” after Hurricane Harvey hit in August. He said he will be ready to head to Florida if needed.

“We go wherever help is needed,” said Ziel. “It’s what we do.”


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