WHITLEY COUNTY: On standby to help

COLUMBIA CITY — The destruction caused by Hurricane Sandy and its winter storm has left several states in need of assistance. While many Indiana districts have deployed teams to these states, Whitley County responders are waiting to help.“We’ve been on standby as of last week,” said Whitley County Emergency Management Agency Director Cathy Broxon-Ball Tuesday morning. “The storm is bringing a lot of water and snow with it. It’s not moving the way they thought it would so a lot of things could change.”According to a press release from the Indiana Department of Homeland Security, Indiana began receiving requests for resources to aid with evacuation and response on the East Coast Saturday.“We believe Indiana was one of the first, if not the first, state to respond to the request for aid from the east coast,” said Joe Wainscott, director of the Indiana Department of Homeland Security. “We are constantly planning, training and preparing our emergency response resources so they can be readily available to assist our citizens in Indiana and others in their time of need.”According to the press release, a total of 107 personnel and 44 vehicles, including 24 ambulances, have been deployed from Indiana.In the event Whitley County is asked to provide assistance, Broxon-Ball said its Incident Management Team would be the most likely to go, depending on the type of assistance the states would ask for.“The Incident Management Team goes in at the state and county level to look at the goals that need to be met within 12 to 24 hour operational periods,” said Broxon-Ball. “They keep track of how many responders there are, where they’re at, as well as other things like gas, water and roads. From that information, they write an incident action plan.”Michael DeFreeuw, the director of marketing and communications for the Northeastern Rural Electric Membership Corporation (REMC), headquartered in Columbia City, said as of Tuesday morning, they were also on standby.“Right now, they have plenty of assistance in Virginia, Pennsylvania and Delaware, but they keep updating us,” said DeFreeuw.