GREEN: Josh Compton had a firsthand view of the destruction Superstorm Sandy left in its wake along the East Coast.
The firefighter/paramedic for Green Fire Department was part of an Ohio search and rescue team that responded to the East Coast shortly after the storm hit.
Some of the homes, he said, “were completely gone — pancaked.”
“The area looked like a beach they put houses on,” Compton said.
Compton along with Pete Deevers, a lieutenant in the department, were among 81 first responders of Ohio Task Force One who were dispatched shortly after the storm.
As a member of the urban search and rescue team, Compton served as a squad commander in charge of five other firefighters/paramedics who combed through rubble, sand and water for victims.
The squad’s first mission was to canvass the homes in Seaside Heights in New Jersey near where the now-famous image of a roller coaster that was swept into the Atlantic Ocean captivated a nation.
“My area alone, we covered about least two square miles. It had to have about 1,000 homes,” Compton said.
The team’s first mission was to knock on the doors of those homes still standing looking for those residents who stayed behind.
“Basically, the island it was deserted, we only found a handful of people who stayed and rode out the storm,” he said.
The team’s next mission was to search for survivors who were trapped in the rubble. They didn’t find anyone.
As a logistics specialist, Deevers’ job was to make sure squads, like Compton’s, had all the supplies they needed.
“Logistics is in charge of everything from cash to equipment to support the mission; tools, vehicles — it’s a 24-hour operation,” Deevers said.
The Ohio contingent was then sent two hours north to Brooklyn, N.Y., to do welfare checks on residents and assist wherever they could.
“There were probably as many homes on one street as there are in Green,” Deevers said.
Both Compton and Deevers met with residents in Gerritsen Beach, where they passed out prepackaged meals and water and some of the 30,000 hooded, fleece robes that were originally intended for runners in the canceled New York Marathon.
“Two guys came up to us and asked us what we were doing. One was wearing a denim jacket and you could tell he was freezing. I put one on him and he said, ‘Oh, I’ve been cold for days,’ ” Deevers said.
Residents put clothes, belongings — just about anything that got wet in the storm — on bushes to dry.
“When you can’t turn the electricity on and with everything wet, it never gets warm enough to dry,” Deevers said.
One young couple asked for advice about black mold that was growing in their home after water flooded their first floor.
“They wanted to know how long it would be before they could put their 10-month-old baby on the floor. I told them they couldn’t,” Compton said.
Capt. Jeff Funai, the third member of the Green Fire Department to assist in the aftermath of Sandy, was part of the Ohio State All-Hazard Incident Management Team (IMT) that sent 17 people to Suffolk County, Long Island, to assist in management support for local emergency teams.
“We were there to support and fortify the existing operation,” Funai said.
The team, in place for 14 days, canvassed the area for resources and helped local officials with an organizational chart that showed where resources were available and where they should be redeployed.
He said it is different for emergency teams that come in from outside during an emergency.
“My family is not involved. My school has not been destroyed. My community has not been impacted,” Funai said.
Besides Funai, other local IMT members who deployed to assist were Buck Adams of Medina County’s Emergency Management Agency, David Calderone and Kelly Corbin of Coventry Township, and Doug Smith of the Summit County Sheriff’s Office as part of the Emergency Management Assistance Compact, a mutual-aid agreement between states.
Kathy Antoniotti can be reached at 330-996-3565 or firstname.lastname@example.org.