By RORYE O’CONNOR
MT. VERNON — —
Steve Lueker, Jefferson County Deputy Emergency Management Agency Coordinator, spent 17 days in New York City as part of an effort to help clean up after Hurricane Sandy.
Lueker shared photos and information about his trip with the Jefferson County Board on Monday. He said he traveled with the state Emergency Management Assistance Compact team, a specially-selected team of people from throughout the state with certain skill sets.
“There’s about 60 members,” he said. “There were 14 that actually deployed to New York City as a part of the response. We deployed at the request of the city of New York, and there was another request from New Jersey.” He said the team was requested quickly because of the skill Illinois has shown in responding to natural disasters.
Hurricane Sandy hit Oct. 29, and the EMAC team was deployed Nov. 1, Lueker said.
Another representative of the Mt. Vernon area, Mt. Vernon Fire Department Assistant Chief Kevin Sargent, was deployed to New York City to help with the cleanup, Lueker said; he said Litton Ambulance was in the city as a private contractor.
Lueker said entering the city when all of the lights were off, and armed military all around, was reminiscent of a science fiction movie. He said the city was filled with mobile food kitchens and potable water trucks, because especially in lower Manhattan, the area was extremely flooded and all drinkable water was destroyed.
The team from Illinois was assigned to help clean up the Rockaway Beach area, and Lueker’s assignment was to manage and control teams of 100 ambulances and National Guardsmen.
“The idea was to find people and make sure they were in good health and had food and water,” he said. “We were to transport them if they needed, to the hospital.”