Middlesex Fire Department ~

Middlesex, New York




Middlesex Fire Department Responds to  Assist Hurricane Irene Victims

MIDDLESEX, NY - In the early morning hours of  Monday, August 29th 2011, four members of the Middlesex Fire Department departed Middlesex for Schoharie County, New York, southwest of Albany. The crew responded as part of a contingent of Yates County firefighters to help victims of flooding caused by the passage of Hurricane Irene through New York on Sunday.

The team from Middlesex was:

David T Harrington, Assistant Chief/EMT
Jon Wood, Firefighter/CFR
Eric Williams, Firefighter/EMT
Robert Mason, Firefighter/EMT

The Middlesex team was deployed for 72 hours in Schoharie County and returned the afternoon of Thursday, September 1st.

Day 1 - The Middlesex crew arrived at the Schoharie County Incident Command Post in Cobleskill, New York at approximately 8am where officials from FEMA, NYS Emergency Management Office and NYS Office of Fire Prevention and Control were already on the scene. National Guard troops were also arriving. Approximately 20 other fire departments from around the state also arrived ready to be deployed into the disaster area.

The situation was still very unstable on day one, the primary mission was accessing those trapped in their homes and on roof tops by flood waters and assessing damaged areas to figure out the best course of action for the coming days. Many areas were totally inaccessible because of flood waters. Air Force National Guard troops accessed some areas with military vehicles and Blackhawk helicopters. The crew from Middlesex counted at least four of these aircraft, presumably performing rescue and reconnaissance missions.

In the early afternoon, the Middlesex crew was assigned duties assisting with the setup of a larger command post at the Schoharie County Fairgrounds in Cobleskill. The Middlesex crew also assisted in unloading FEMA supply trucks of water and pre-packaged ready to eat meals.

Incident command officials identified four villages and their surrounding areas as the hardest hit areas of Schoharie County.

Day 2 - During the early morning hours of Tuesday morning crews from the Urban Search and Rescue Team - Ohio Task Force 1 arrived and continued assessing and accessing the damaged areas by ground and helicopter. As the flood waters receded, Fire Departments and National Guard troops assigned to the Schoharie County fairgrounds also began performing humanitarian missions, transporting food and water into the affected areas.

In the late afternoon the Middlesex Crew, along with a large number of firefighters from Erie County was assigned to one of the most heavily damaged areas, the Village of Schoharie, about 10 miles from Cobleskill. A convoy of fire vehicles traveled over a closed stretch of Interstate 88 to reach the affected area. The damage was readily apparent as the convoy reached the business district of Schoharie. What wasn't covered in mud or water was covered in dust.

The Village of Schoharie fire department building was flooded and severely damaged in the storm and all operations were relocated to higher ground at the Schoharie school. The taskforce arrived at the Schoharie High School bus garage to check in at the make shift Schoharie Fire Department Command Post.

The first assignment was to relieve the Village of Schoharie firefighters, most of which had been responding to calls for 48 hours with little or no sleep.

The Middlesex crew setup a sleeping area inside the elementary school gym. There was no electricity, so generators and lights had to be setup.

Day 3 - Wednesday morning the crew from Middlesex along with firefighters from Watertown and Bowmansville fire departments were briefed and assigned to a taskforce to perform cellar pumping details.

Middlesex Assistant Chief David Harrington was assigned as leader of Strike Team #2. Strike team #2 and seven other strike teams spent the entire day pumping water from the basements of houses in the Village of Schoharie.

Flood waters reached approximately 6 to 9 feet at the height of the storm, obliterating the first floor contents of nearly all homes and businesses in the village.

Firefighters faced dangers of mud and standing water, dust, unstable houses and collapsed foundations. Firefighters went door to door, street by street pumping basements and helping residents as best they could with the resources they had.

National Grid workers could be seen throughout the village, removing electric meters from homes so power could be restored to the village as a whole.

NYS DEC was also in the area responding to numerous large and small hazardous materials spills, mostly fuel oil, in flooded basements and houses.

Day 4 - The crew from Middlesex checked out from the Village of Schoharie Command Post and responded back to Cobleskill. There crews were debriefed and relevant information passed to the county incident command post. Middlesex then made the three hour trip home.




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