The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

Local News

November 20, 2012

After a Hurricane

Danville woman pitches in to help

DANVILLE — It was 16 days of hard work and emotion for a Danville woman involved in the East Coast relief efforts in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.

Michele Rice of Danville — a member of the Vermilion County Emergency Management Agency — shipped out at the beginning of November from the Illinois Emergency Management Agency headquarters in Springfield en route to New York City as part of a team of 13 county EMA members from throughout the state as well as two IEMA employees.

The opportunity was as a result of requests for assistance through the Emergency Management Assistance Compact, the nation’s state-to-state mutual aid system.

For two weeks, Rice said she took over roles in several different facets of the relief efforts, including logistics — following through and purchasing items for emergency responders working in the field — and public safety.

She also handled travel needs whenever a bus was needed at a shelter location and went into shelters herself to conduct interviews to create a final assessment of the relief efforts and what improvements needed to be made.

She said walking into the New York City Emergency Operation Center the first day was incredible.

“I was overwhelmed when I walked into the enormous operations center,” she said. “It was nothing like what I thought it would be.

“I thought ‘Oh my gosh, what am I going to do here,’” Rice said.

The opportunity to be part of the Illinois team was the culmination of years of training work locally. Nonetheless, she learned even more as she stepped into things.

“You just kind of fall into place with it,” Rice said. “You know what needs to be done; you just have to make it happen.”

Despite the situation, Rice admitted she was “on top of the world” because of the chance to use what she had been learning for so long.

Using that knowledge, however, had its price as Rice and the other team members put in anywhere between 12 and 16 hours per day for relief efforts. She and other team members were prepared with sleeping bags, but rooms were found at a New Jersey hotel for the team to sleep.

The assistance from Illinois came less than a week after Sandy flooded neighborhoods, knocked out power to millions of homes and businesses and killed at least 39 people.

It wasn’t until the last portion of her time in New York that Rice got a first-hand look at the wind-spread damage from the storm. She called the experience “humbling.”

Rice, in one instance, met a family — Joseph and Veronica. The couple had gone through their savings trying to make ends meet while Veronica dealt with breast cancer. Then they had lost everything in the storm.

Talking with them touched Rice, who took half of her monetary allotment for food, put it in an envelope and slid it under the couple’s door.

“I have a tender heart, so I’m wanting to cry with these people,” she said. “The tears were in my eyes the same as theirs.”

Rice said Monica later found her and gave her a card, tearfully thanking her.

The emotional strain was as much to bear for the EMA workers as the physical toll.

“In the beginning, I hit the bed and went to sleep,” Rice said. “The second week of it, I tossed and turned. I was overly exhausted then.

“I would listen to the rest of the team members, but you can’t help to think through the day: ‘Did I do this OK, did I do that OK?’”

The day usually began with leaving the hotel rooms between 6-6:15 a.m. Although the rooms were only 13 miles away, it took transportation more than an hour — sometimes as much as two hours — to make it to the Emergency Operations Center.

“The traffic was so unreal,” Rice said. “Different tunnels were closed because they were flooded.”

After a briefing regarding the previous evening, Rice and the team would set their goals for the day and get to work.

“Once you started it was pretty busy,” she said. “No time for stopping because somebody always needed something.”

Their shift would usually end about 8-8:30 p.m. followed by another long drive back to the hotel rooms.

Rice said she couldn’t have imagined the enormity of the situation in New York and New Jersey until she was there and able to see it first-hand.

“I knew it was big, but I never dreamed it was as big as what it was,” she said.

1
Text Only
Local News
  • Fish fry, concert set for today

    July 26, 2014

  • DACC offers classes in Hoopeston HOOPESTON — Danville Area Community College is offering many classes at the DACC Higher Learning Center in Hoopeston. For a complete listing of classes or programs, visit www.dacc.edu/hoopeston. For more information and to register call 283-4170 or v

    July 26, 2014

  • bowman4.jpg Traffic delays Drivers of the 8,000 vehicles a day that travel Bowman Avenue between Winter Avenue and Voorhees Street already have noticed traffic delays.Construction has started on the stretch to repair the rough roadway and make other improvements.Danville Urban

    July 26, 2014 1 Photo

  • Tilton Redneck Games Today8:15 a.m. — Redneck Baby Contest Registration9:30 a.m. — Redneck Baby Contest10 a.m. — Mud Bogs and Tug of War registration; Redneck T-shirt shop opens11 a.m. — Mud Bogs, Mud Volleyball, Beer Tent, Vendors and Kidz Zone opensNoon — Tug of War st

    July 26, 2014

  • U.S.: Russia firing across border KIEV, Ukraine — Russia is launching artillery attacks from its soil on Ukrainian troops and preparing to move heavier weaponry across the border, the U.S. and Ukraine charged Friday in what appeared to be an ominous escalation of the crisis.Russia ac

    July 26, 2014

  • Police Report Incidents reported to police include:DanvilleWednesdayVehicle damaged in the 900 block of Sunset Ridge.Retail theft at Kmart, 2721 N. Vermilion St.Bike stolen at Danville Liquors, 1860 E. Main St.Retail theft at CVS, 820 N. Vermilion St.Property dama

    July 26, 2014

  • Fire Calls Firefighters responded to the following calls:Thursday, 11:05-11:26 a.m. — A medical call in the first block of East Harrison Street.Thursday, 11:51 a.m.-12:15 p.m. — A false alarm at the Vermilion County Health Department, 200 College St.Thursday, 1

    July 26, 2014

  • Feds' immigrant figures may not give full story CHICAGO — Recent data released by the federal government may reflect only a fraction of how many unaccompanied children apprehended at the U.S.-Mexico border are in Illinois, with state officials saying hundreds more could be at shelters.In a state-b

    July 26, 2014

  • Durbin hails new Chicago gun intelligence effort CHICAGO — Days after a stray bullet turned an 11-year-old girl into yet another victim of Chicago’s gun violence, U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin hailed a new facility designed to help authorities track illegal guns and link them to crimes across the city, sta

    July 26, 2014

  • douglas4.jpg New city playground to have natural feel upon completion DANVILLE — The new playground going in at Douglas Park, off Bowman Avenue, is part of a new idea for cities.With more children in general staying indoors and not being exposed to nature as much, Danville Special Services Supervisor Steve Lane said th

    July 26, 2014 2 Photos

E-edition
Spring 2014 Photos


Buy these photos and more via Smugmug

AP Video
Raw: Massive Dust Storm Covers Phoenix 12-hour Cease-fire in Gaza Fighting Begins Raw: Bolivian Dancers Attempt to Break Record Raw: Israel, Palestine Supporters Rally in US Raw: Palestinians and Israeli Soldiers Clash Raw: Air Algerie Flight 5017 Wreckage Virginia Governor Tours Tornado Aftermath Judge Faces Heat Over Offer to Help Migrant Kids Kerry: No Deal Yet on 7-Day Gaza Truce Kangaroo Goes Missing in Oklahoma More M17 Bodies Return, Sanctions on Russia Grow Gaza Residents Mourn Dead Amid Airstrikes Raw: Deadly Tornado Hits Virginia Campground Ohio State Marching Band Chief Fired After Probe Raw: Big Rig Stuck in Illinois Swamp Cumberbatch Brings 'Penguins' to Comic-Con Raw: Air Algerie Crash Site in Mali Power to Be Restored After Wash. Wildfire Crashed Air Algerie Plane Found in Mali Israel Mulls Ceasefire Amid Gaza Offensive
NDN Video
Big Weekend For Atlanta Braves In Cooperstown - @TheBuzzeronFox Chapter Two: Becoming a first-time director What's Got Jack Black Freaking Out at Comic-Con? Doctors Remove 232 Teeth From Teen's Mouth Bradley Cooper Explains His Voice in 'Guardians of the Galaxy' Deja vu: Another NYPD officer choke-holding a suspect 'Fifty Shades of Grey': Watch the Super Sexy First Trailer Now! Reports: Ravens RB Ray Rice Suspended For 1st 2 Games Of The Season Air Algerie plane with 119 on board missing over Mali Diamond Stone, Malik Newman, Josh Jackson and others showcase talent Free Arturo - The World's Saddest Polar Bear A Look Back at Batman On Film Through The Years LeBron James -- Dropped $2k On Cupcake Apology ... Proceeds To Benefit Charity Snoop Dogg Says He Smoked Weed at the White House Raw: Fight Breaks Out in Ukraine Parliament Chris Pratt Interrupts Interview To French Braid Intern's Hair Shirtless Super Mario Balotelli Dances While Ironing - @TheBuzzeronFOX Whoa! Watch "Housewives" Star Do the Unthinkable LeBron apologizes to neighbors with cupcakes Justin Bieber In Calvin Klein Underwear Shoot
Must Read