Praise for emer­gency re­sponse unan­i­mous

Record Observer - - News - By AN­GELA PRICE bay­times@kibay­times.com

STEVENSVILLE — Peo­ple had thanks and praise for emer­gency re­spon­ders, neigh­bors and lo­cal busi­nesses dur­ing the town hall meet­ing to as­sess tor­nado re­cov­ery ef­forts Wed­nes­day, Aug. 2, at Mat­a­peake Ele­men­tary.

Dave Rivett, chief of Emer­gency Man­age­ment for Queen Anne’s County, wel­comed every­one and in­tro­duced county of­fi­cials and mem­bers of the disas­ter re­sponse team present. Both Com­mis­sion­ers Jim Mo­ran and Steve Wil­son praised the emer­gency re­sponse.

Rivett ex­plained the pur­pose of the meet­ing was to de­ter­mine what the un­met needs of the com­mu­nity are, if there are any gaps in ser­vices and what else is needed for re­cov­ery.

Ques­tions had been raised about the emer­gency alert for the July 24 tor­nado; some peo­ple re­ported re­ceiv­ing the alert af­ter the tor­nado passed.

Rivett said both the county and Mary­land Emer­gency Man­age­ment Agency are look­ing into the is­sue.

“Some of us know that the storm alert came out as a wa­ter­spout at 1:27 that Mon­day morn­ing, and some peo­ple didn’t get it un­til four or five min­utes later, and the tor­nado had al­ready come through Bay City and it was on its way to Chester, so it is a con­cern, why didn’t it work?” Rivett said. “But I can as­sure you as the emer­gency man­age­ment chief for the county I’m go­ing to find out why, and we’re go­ing to work this out with our part­ners.”

Pub­lic Works Di­rec­tor Todd Mohn said, “As ev­ery­body knows, our pub­lic works crews, the res­i­dents, the vol­un­teers, the con­trac­tors have been down here since last Mon­day work­ing very hard to clean up the im­pacted area hit by the tor­nado Our main fo­cus to date has been to get the trees, the limbs and all the stumps out of there and cleaned up.”

Us­ing a tub grinder from Mary­land En­vi­ron­men­tal Ser­vice, they’ve been grind­ing ma­te­rial at the Batts Neck Trans­fer Sta­tion, Mohn said. At that point, they had ground up 25,000 cu­bic yards of ma­te­rial and re­moved 30 trac­tor-trailer loads of mulched ma­te­rial, he added.

Both Kathy Trot­ter and Wil­liam Turner had praise for the emer­gency re­sponse by the county, the vol­un­teers, neigh­bors and the state.

Trot­ter said the vol­un­teer force or­ga­nized by Scott Saun­ders, Lucy Kruse and Aaron Berez­nak was a great group of peo­ple and a force to be reck­oned with, and it was great to see the com­mu­nity com­ing to­gether.

Turner said there were fire­men at 2 o’clock in the morn­ing “com­ing through and check­ing on us …. They were just phe­nom­e­nal.”

Turner was also full of praise for Del­marva Power and the crews that “worked through the day and into the night” to re­store elec­tric ser­vice to the com­mu­nity. “They were great.”

His ques­tion had to do with re­build­ing ef­forts. Would home­own­ers have to meet newer codes, such as in­stalling sprin­klers, he asked.

Vi­vian Swin­son, of­fice co­or­di­na­tor with the county per­mit­ting of­fice, said ex­ist­ing build­ing codes would have to be met, but that the county would do what it could to help ex­pe­dite per­mits.

Plan­ning and Zon­ing Di­rec­tor Mike Wis­nosky said as the com­mu­nity en­ters the re­build­ing stage, his of­fice would con­sider ex­tend­ing hours or maybe open­ing on a Satur­day if needed.

Jes­sica Tester­man, whose house on Buck­ing­ham Drive was deemed a to­tal loss, also lost her in-home child care busi­ness.

“My house, they’re go­ing to tear it down,” she said. “But they’re say­ing only one busi­ness was lost, but I lost my busi­ness, which I do child care for 12 years. So, I don’t have a house, and I don’t have a busi­ness. What can you do for me?”

Rivett said he had been try­ing to reach her to put her in touch with the Small Busi­ness Ad­min­is­tra­tion, which of­fers loans and can help find re­lo­ca­tion for busi­nesses. He asked for her cell phone num­ber.

Tester­man added her thanks to every­one who vol­un­teered to help. “They just did a great job.”

Much of the dis­cus­sion cen­tered on the large num­ber of trees de­stroyed.

One man who didn’t give his name said light­ning struck a large maple tree in his back­yard, a large limb came off and the tree was hang­ing over his house. His in­sur­ance com­pany said re­moval of the tree wasn’t cov­ered. He talked to the Mary­land In­sur­ance Ad­min­is­tra­tion, which was able to get his in­sur­ance com­pany to re­con­sider. He urged oth­ers to con­tact Mary­land In­sur­ance Ad­min­is­tra­tion if they had prob­lems with in­sur­ance cov­er­age.

An­other man said the state and county need to look into bet­ter stan­dards on what counts as mak­ing trees safe. He in­di­cated trees se­cured to suit his in­sur­ance com­pany then fell down in the next bit of wind.

An­other man said, while his house was still stand­ing, 20 trees had been lev­eled in his yard, and much of it is wet­lands. He wanted to know if there was any fed­eral or state as­sis­tance to help with the re­moval and what about re­plant­ing.

Wis­nosky said be­cause the trees were de­stroyed in a nat­u­ral disas­ter, the home­owner wouldn’t be re­quired to re­place them.

Rivett said the county would be col­lect­ing in­for­ma­tion and sta­tis­tics needed to qual­ify for fed­eral and state disas­ter des­ig­na­tions.

Deb­bie Stone of Zaidee Lane in Bay City said there were huge amounts of trees down at her house. Like Trot­ter, she praised the vol­un­teers who helped her with clean up. “Lucy and her crew were great.”

Stone said she wanted to let peo­ple know their in­sur­ance com­pa­nies may give them credit to­ward their de­ductible for the hours they spend clean­ing up de­bris.

Wil­liam McKay of Bay City of­fered a “tip of the cap” to those in­volved in the re­sponse and clean up.

Su­per­in­ten­dent of Schools Dr. An­drea Kane said the school sys­tem is lin­ing up sup­port for stu­dents in terms of school coun­selors and back to school sup­plies. Di­rec­tor of Op­er­a­tions Sid Pin­der said he would work with par­ents to make sure chil­dren dis­placed by the tor­nado can at­tend their same schools.

Health Of­fi­cer Dr. Joseph Ciotola said the health de­part­ment can help with ob­tain­ing vi­tal records that may have been lost, such as birth cer­tifi­cates and im­mu­niza­tion records.

Pas­tor Amor Woolsey, as­so­ciate pas­tor at Kent Is­land United Methodist Church, said, “So much love has just poured in.”

KIUMC has served as a distri­bu­tion cen­ter for sup­plies and is the site of Haven Min­istries disas­ter as­sis­tance shel­ter.

She added, “It’s great to see the body of Christ work­ing this way.”

KIUMC has started a des­ig­nated fund to help tor­nado vic­tims, Woolsey said. The funds will be used for such things as se­cu­rity de­posits for a rentals, de­ductibles, and other bills re­sult­ing from the tor­nado.

“The church is here to help,” she said.

Fa­ther Mark Del­cuze of Christ Church Kent Is­land also of­fered as­sis­tance. “We have gift cards and all kinds of things we can do to help,” he said. The gift cards are for a va­ri­ety of lo­cal busi­nesses.

Krista Pet­tit of Haven Min­istries in­vited peo­ple to stop and see her on their way out and pick up food and per­sonal care items that had been do­nated.

Sgt. Sean Hamp­ton of the Queen Anne’s County Sher­iff’s Of­fice re­minded cit­i­zens to make sure their house num­bers are vis­i­ble in case of emer­gency. Some may have been de­stroyed in the tor­nado and need to be re­placed.

The next tor­nado re­cov­ery meet­ing will be at 7 p.m. Aug. 23 at Mat­a­peake Ele­men­tary School. Every­one af­fected by the tor­nado is in­vited. A tor­nado hot­line has been es­tab­lished with many use­ful phone num­bers recorded, 410-758-5060.

PHOTO BY DOUG BISHOP

Rep. Andy Har­ris, R-1st, and his wife, Ni­cole, speak with Reg­is­tered Nurse Nancy Pip­pin, Wed­nes­day, Aug. 2, in­side Mat­a­peake Ele­men­tary School in Stevensville. Pip­pin was part of the staff rep­re­sent­ing the Queen Anne’s County Health De­part­ment fol­low up to com­mu­nity needs from the tor­nado that swept across Kent Is­land early Mon­day, July 24. In the back­ground are Gary and Jeanie Thomp­son, vol­un­teers from Haven Min­istries, who were also present to help in­di­vid­u­als with per­sonal food needs.

Doris Greeno of Bay City painted this sign to en­cour­age her neigh­bors af­ter the July 24 dev­as­tated the com­mu­nity.

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