Superstorm Sandy spurs local response

The devastation left in the wake of Hurricane Sandy’s march through the northeast and mid-Atlantic regions of the United States this week has prompted the activation of local disaster responders and led to a few last-minute visitors at Pine Bluff.

Michelle Metot-Works, disaster manager with the Southeast Arkansas chapter of the American Red Cross, said that a pair of local teams are being dispatched to the east coast.

“We have sent two of our emergency response vehicles to Middleton, N.Y.,” Metot-Works said of the community 70 miles northwest of New York City. “Each unit will be staffed by two people and will be equipped with insulated food containers that keep hot food hot and cold items cold.”

Metot-Works said that the trucks will each have six food containers and two beverage containers.

“They will be able to serve meals out of a window built into the truck,” Metot-Works said. “They will also be set up to handle bulk distribution of cleanup kits, tarps and shovels. One of them left this morning from Pine Bluff and the truck in El Dorado will be leaving first thing in the morning.”

Local Salvation Army Capt. David Robinson said that so far his agency’s local capabilities have not been called upon.

“So far I haven’t heard of anybody in the Arkansas area that has been put on standby,” Robinson said. “The Eastern Territory and the Central Territory of the Salvation Army will use all of their resources before the Southern Territory is called upon. The recovery effort will be a long-term situation so I wouldn’t be surprised that by January there may be a need that we will be asked to respond to.”

At least one local hotelier reported business related to the storm.

“We probably had six or seven total staying with us over the past few days who couldn’t get out because of Hurricane Sandy,” said JoAnne Kientz, front desk manager at the Hampton Inn and Suites. “We even had three pilots here.”

Several other local hotels contacted for this article reported no Sandy-related guests.