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Akron area spared from major storm damage

11/1/2012 - South Side Leader
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By Kathleen Folkerth

Local responders head to East Coast

GREATER AKRON — The Akron area was spared from major damage resulting from Hurricane Sandy, but local responders are part of the effort to help on the East Coast, where the storm unleashed the most fury.

Among the assistance traveling from Akron to help on the coast were six Summit County emergency responders and four volunteers with the American Red Cross of Summit and Portage Counties who were deployed to areas of need this week.

David Calderone, Coventry Township trustee and former fire chief; Kelly Corbin, Coventry Fire Department administrative assistant; Jeff Funai, a captain in the Green Fire Department; and Doug Smith, of the Summit County Sheriff’s Office, headed east as part of the Ohio All Hazard State Incident Management Team (IMT), a group of trained individuals who work to augment local emergency personnel, according to the Ohio Emergency Management Agency. They are expected to spend two weeks on assignment, state officials said.

In addition, Green officials said Green Fire Lt. Pete Deevers and Firemedic Josh Compton were deployed with Ohio Task Force 1 for two weeks.

Local Red Cross officials said two of its four local volunteers who were called up drove the chapter’s Emergency Response Vehicle to the East Coast, where it was to be used to reach remote or cut-off areas with emergency food and water.

Schools throughout Summit County — including Akron, Coventry, Green, Manchester, Norton and Springfield districts — were closed Oct. 30 in anticipation of the remnants of the storm as it headed to the area, but local authorities reported little damage from the high winds and rain that resulted.

Heidi Swindell, of the Summit County Engineer’s Office, said the area did not have the widespread power outages and reports of damage that even neighboring Cuyahoga County had.

“We didn’t have anything huge,” she said. “We did have fallen trees and debris on the roadway, so our crews were out clearing that, mostly in northern and western Summit County. We had no reports from southern Summit County with any major issues.”

Akron officials said the city saw some disruptions due to around 80 downed large trees, closed roads and downed electrical wires. Five parks maintenance crews spent Oct. 30 cleaning up the roadway obstructions, while highway maintenance and sewer maintenance crews were out clearing sewer inlets that had become clogged with leaves and debris, causing flooded roadways.

FirstEnergy on Oct. 30 reported power outages affected more than 1,400 in Akron. With rain continuing in the area, additional power outages also were reported Oct. 31, with 340 homes in Coventry and 176 homes in New Franklin affected. A handful of residences in Green, Lakemore, Norton and Springfield were without power at that point, according to FirstEnergy.

Local residents have been encouraged by relief organizations to help in the East Coast recovery effort through donations.

“This will be a large, costly relief response, and we need help now,” said Charley Shimanski, senior vice president of Disaster Services for the Red Cross. “People can help by making a donation to support American Red Cross Disaster Relief online, by text or by phone.”

To donate, go to www.redcross.org, call 800-RED-CROSS or text the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation. Contributions also may be sent to the local Red Cross chapter at 501 W. Market St., Akron, OH 44303 or to the American Red Cross, P.O. Box 37243, Washington, DC 20013.

Red Cross officials added that the storm had caused the cancellation of Red Cross blood drives in the affected region, which has resulted in the loss of several hundred units of blood and platelets.

The Red Cross urges eligible blood donors in places not affected by the storm to schedule a blood donation. To do that or for more information, visit redcrossblood.org or call 800-RED CROSS (800-733-2767). Donors must be at least 17, meet weight and height requirements, be in general good health and will need identification. 

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