Office of Emergency Management Commissioner thanks the team

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New York Office of Emergency Management Commissioner Joseph Bruno thanked the Lone Star State Incident Management Team on Friday for their service in providing for the residents of New York impacted by Hurricane Sandy.

“You’re really good friends and you come here with a great attitude,” he said. “There’s still a number of people out there who need help, but because of you, that number is diminishing.”

Bruno, right, is pictured with Lone Star State IMT Incident Commander Paul Hannemann. Hannemann presented the commissioner with a certificate of appreciation for his “concise direction and clear intent to the Lone Star State Incident Management Team and … leadership and steadfast dedication to the Sandy Support Mission.”

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Meet the team: Steve Pollock and Justice Jones

Pollock Jones

Steve Pollock (left):
Chief Regional Fire Coordinator, Texas A&M Forest Service
Position with Lone Star State Incident Management Team: Liaision Officer
Age: 58

As a liaison officer with the IMT, Pollock’s role is to serve as the incident’s point of contact with agency representatives from assisting and cooperating agencies. He reports to the Incident Commander. On assignment in New York, Pollock is working closely with the city’s Office of Emergency Management, which requested the Lone Star team to coordinate the National Guard’s massive public outreach and commodity distribution program.

Justice Jones (right):
Wildland Urban Interface Coordinator, Texas A&M Forest Service
Position with Lone Star State Incident Management Team: Public Information Officer
Age: 40

As the lead public information officer with the Lone Star State IMT, Jones is responsible for coordinating information collection and dissemination internally among team members and cooperators and externally among the media and the public. The PIO reports to the Incident Commander. On assignment in New York, Jones is preparing daily informational updates, distributing flyers and other information to the public, facilitating media interviews and using social media to share the team’s stories.

Meet the team: Finance

Finance Team

Finance Section Chief Stephanie Elledge, Cost Unit Leader Carolyne Riggs, Procurement Unit Leader John Warner and Time Unit Leader Becky Hopkins are an integral part of the Lone Star State Incident Management Team; they’re the ones who ensure that the bills get paid.

They also track payroll for the team and costs for all assigned equipment. Response and recovery efforts on natural and manmade disasters often can cost millions of dollars, and it’s important that every penny is tracked and accounted for.

The four Texas A&M Forest Service employees on the Finance team represent different office locations – Elledge is from Lufkin, Riggs is from Nacogdoches, Warner is from Conroe and Hopkins is from San Augustine – but they function like a family and have served together on numerous incidents.

Meet the team: Steve Cordova

Cordova

The only member of the Lone Star State Incident Management Team to hail from El Paso, Steve Cordova brings unique experience as emergency management planner for Ysleta Del Sur Pueblo Tribal Nation in West Texas.

His experience in El Paso makes Cordova an ideal candidate to serve as the team’s Deputy Plans Chief. In his capacity with the Superstorm Sandy recovery, Cordova is collecting, evaluating, processing and disseminating information. He also supervises daily preparation of the Incident Action Plan and provides input to the Incident Commander and Operations Section.

“This experience has been very positive,” Cordova said. “The team’s mission is so important because it directly aids residents who were impacted by this deadly and destructive storm. I hope to bring many lessons learned back to the community I serve. I’m willing to contribute and participate any way possible in providing disaster preparedness assistance to the Lone Star IMT.”

Lone Star State IMT Update

Tablet training

The Lone Star State IMT, New York Army National Guard, New York Office of Emergency Management and Center for Innovation and Data Intelligence trained 86 AmeriCorps volunteers Wednesday to ensure proficiency with the assessment tablets used to conduct door-to-door wellness checks. The additional resources are now augmenting National Guard troops canvassing neighborhoods daily.

Friends of Firefighters, a charity dedicated to addressing the physical, mental health and wellness needs of New York firefighters and their families, hosted a breakfast Wednesday to thank the Lone Star State IMT for their work in the community. During the appreciation breakfast, first responders were called to a nearby incident involving a commuter ferry.

In addition to the 100,000-plus status checks, more than 43,396 informational packets have been distributed to date throughout the affected areas in an effort to mitigate secondary hazards such as dangerous mold, electrical safety and recovery assistance.             

Distribution totals to date:

Blankets: 6,337

Electric blankets; 4,208

Cases of water: 3,283

Meals: 41,460

Cases of masks: 754

Comfort kits: 4,189

Portable electric heaters: 786

Meet the team: Logistics

Alan FoxRonnie JonesPierceLemmon (3)

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Texas A&M Forest Service employees Alan Fox, Tyler Raynes, Jarred Lemmon, Ronnie Jones and Kevin Pierce are all serving the Lone Star State Incident Management Team in the Logistics section.

Logistics is responsible for ordering supplies, tracking items for the New York Army National Guard to distribute, arranging meals for personnel assigned to the incident and much more.

Fox, a resource specialist in Palestine, and Raynes, a regional fire coordinator in Archer City, spent three days driving to New York to transport supplies for the team. Big city traffic, they say, has presented their biggest challenge.

Raynes admits he was confused by all the honking horns on the road, thinking maybe the nice people of New York were alluding to the George Strait country tune, “Honk if You Honky Tonk.”

Lemmon, a law enforcement investigator in Linden, also had some travel challenges. His flight to New York was his first time on an airplane.

“It was horrific,” he said of the bumpy ride in late December. “The weather was bad and the pilot said he’d never had to land like that. I think snakes on a plane would have been better.”

Pierce boarded a plane for the first time in 15 years to get to the New York assignment and said he was more than a little nervous. Pierce, also a law enforcement investigator, has served as Texas A&M Forest Service’s handler for the arson bloodhound and claims he likes “to stay behind the scenes.”

Jones, a resource specialist in San Augustine, and the other members of the Logistics section say they have found New Yorkers to be kind and receptive to the Texas team, in the Big Apple for three weeks to coordinate wellness checks for more than 102,000 households affected by Superstorm Sandy.

“There’s not much culture shock,” Raynes said. “New York has been getting culture shock from us.”

Lone Star State IMT Update

Meeting

The Lone Star State IMT incident commanders met Tuesday, Jan. 8, with members of the New York Army National Guard, New York Office of Emergency Management (NYCOEM) and Center for Innovation in Data Intelligence (CIDI), the group managing data collected from public wellness checks. The group streamlined the methodology used to capture residents’ status and needs.

Feedback is provided daily to cooperating agencies that not only enhances the efficiency of the operation but helps improve the city’s ability to respond in the future. The IMT also is gathering lessons learned that can be implemented on future incident response events in Texas.

Starting Wednesday, the troops on the ground were augmented by AmeriCorps volunteers, who are scheduled to receive training on field assessments from CIDI, NYCOEM, LSSIMT operations and New York Army National Guard.

With a total of 175 personnel assigned to the incident, safety officers reported no injuries in the field on Tuesday. Debris has accumulated as a result of home repairs and structurally compromised buildings in the assessment area, so safety of responders and residents continues to be of the utmost importance. 

“We are taking the safety of our troops extremely seriously and have developed a comprehensive contingency plan to ensure we can respond to any situation rapidly and efficiently,” said Safety Officer Terry Jones.

In addition to the status checks, more than 43,396 fire prevention brochures have been distributed to date throughout the affected areas in an effort to mitigate secondary fire hazards.

Justice Jones
Public Information Officer