There was a celebration of gratitude and admiration Sunday evening, for a few in Wayne and Pike Counties who worked tirelessly during a time in which the limits of many were challenged, nearly a year ago, when Hurricane Sandy brought devastation and frustration to the region. At the American Red Cross Wayne Pike Chapter's annual Patriot Day Dinner, a selected few were recognized for their contributions to the community last year. The event was held at the Inn at Woodloch.
The bottom line, said Jim Rienhardt, the Executive Director of the Wayne/Pike Chapter is that the people in the two counties did what was necessary to ensure the well being of others during difficult times.
Joann Hudak, Ed.D. Chairman of the Board, said it is the people, who play an important role in keeping the community safe.
Professionals that included the Wayne County Emergency Management Agency were recognized because of their extensive preparation for emergencies. Part of the agency's success, was the result of continuous open communication with the appropriate personnel during and following the storm. Through the communication, the agency was able to identify which areas were affected the worse and what resources were needed.
Greene-Dreher Volunteer Fire Department in Wayne County were praised for the work done by volunteers, who staffed the fire hall in Newfoundland throughout the storm, serving nearly 200 people a day who sought food, water and power.
Members of Grace Episcopal Parish in Honesdale, offered a sanctuary for those who needed shelter, during Hurricane Sandy. Hot meals and snacks were provided by local businesses and members of the congregation, sent items to places in New York and New Jersey where other areas were also affected.
Pike County Emergency Management Agency was recognized for what was accomplished through the success of the new Emergency Operations Center, that was an essential resource during the storm. From Oct. 29 to the 31st, the center handled more than 1,300 emergency calls, which is about the monthly average for 911 calls in Pike County.
In Delaware Township, over 16,000 MREs (meals ready to eat) were distributed following the storm. Township Supervisor, Tom Ryan said as a newly elected supervisor he had never been responsible for 8,000 people and the help he received from others was, "priceless." The success, he said, was due to; "teamwork, teamwork, teamwork." Ryan said he has a new respect for firemen as he saw them complete their responsibilities, which he said was incredible.
Dingman Township Volunteer Fire Department in Pike County was recognized at the dinner because of the department's preparation for the storm. As part of the planning, equipment that included chainsaws and generators were ready and waiting in case they were needed. The fire hall was stocked with food and the hall was staffed 24-hours-a-day, where cots and other items were provided to members of the public. More than 1,200 people visited the hall in need of assistance during the storm.
Page 2 of 2 - Following Hurricane Irene in 2011, members of Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in Pike County realized that they weren't prepared for storms, after thousands of dollars' worth of food was ruined in the food pantry. After purchasing a $30,000 generator and propane tank to ensure the loss of food didn't occur again, parishioners served nearly 900 meals in a three day period during Hurricane Sandy. Since that storm, the congregation has participated in an American Red Cross training program and have created an outreach committee that works to improve the community.
Aside from recognizing the heroes of the region, the dinner was also one of the Chapter's few fundraisers. Rienhardt said the event's net revenue exceeded $19,000 this year. The funds came from patrons and organizations throughout the region, and will assist the ongoing disaster relief in the counties. Additionally, Rienhardt thanked Anthony Santiago for chairing the dinner, as his leadership was, "pivotal in achieving," the record amount. Rienhardt added that, those honored Sunday, took the Red Cross's mission to heart.
Hudak said, "inside every single patriot is a volunteer," who live and breathe the spirit of the Red Cross mission. The dinner, she said, was an opportunity to thank and celebrate those who help others.
Pike County Emergency Management Coordinator Roger Maltby said that emergency management is only as good as the volunteers and the volunteers in the region, he added, "did a pretty good job."