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Emergency mgmt. team wraps up in New York City

NEW YORK — The six area residents dispatched to help in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy will be back for Thanksgiving, tired but better prepared for future disasters and with the knowledge of having helped.

“We’re all here, we’re all a little tired but we’ve had an excellent experience,” said retired Shelburne Fire Chief Angus “Terry” Dun.

“The experience that we’ve had down here, the learning curve that we’ve had down here, will directly benefit our area if we ever run into this type of situation again,” Dun said. “We’ve learned a great deal about how to plan and how to manage these resources.”

The regional emergency management team arrived in New York on Nov. 8 and has worked 12-hour shifts since, according to Dun, first helping to ensure the supply of fuel for critical vehicles and now managing an improvised equipment depot.

Dunn said the team, from Greenfield, New Salem, Northfield, Orange, Shelburne and the Berkshire County town of Lanesboro, left the Bronx fuel station for Citi Field in Queens Nov. 11.

There, Dun and the others work under a similar team from Phoenix, Ariz., to manage the flow of emergency equipment in and out of the five-borough hub established in the Mets stadium parking lot.

The team records and coordinates the passage of pumps, generators, emergency lighting and other equipment from the yard to where they are needed.

Dun said the team’s work has largely turned to receiving returned equipment as services are restored, but the need is not gone.

Monday, the team had their first opportunity to view the destruction firsthand, traveling through the Rockaway and Breezy Point neighborhoods.

A fire swept through evacuated Breezy Point during the storm, burning many of the houses.

“That just describes one part of it,” Dun said. “You should see the houses that have been physically relocated to different places and knocked off their foundations, it’s just a devastated community.”

In the Rockaway area, housing projects are still running on power from heavy generators shipped through the equipment yard, Dun said.

“It’s really devastating to see what these people are going through,” Dun said. “We’re glad that we could contribute in some small way to help.”

Today will be the team’s last day of work before they leave their billets in the umpire’s room of the stadium to return home Wednesday.

The incident management team is a program of the Tri-State Fire Mutual Aid Association based in Greenfield, Dun said, and made up of current and former firefighters and other emergency workers.

Organized in 2010, team members have received special training at the New York and Colorado wildfire and incident management academies and have responded to major structure fires, the flooding following Tropical Storm Irene and last year’s October snowstorm and Springfield tornado.

The team was activated by the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency at the request of the State of New York and will be paid through federal disaster relief money, according to Dun.

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