Kansans understand the importance of preparedness and a coordinated response when it comes to weather disasters.
Knowing as much, it wasn’t a surprise to see Kansas among states nationwide to dispatch emergency responders to the East Coast as Hurricane Dorian barreled toward land.
After a vicious strike on the Bahamas — dozens of deaths were reported there with the toll expected to soar — the United States had to wait and worry about the deadly storm’s potential threat to the states. Dorian’s worst damage in the U.S. looked to be in the southeast, with five deaths reported as of Sunday in that region.
People nationwide were ready to help affected parts of the coastline.
As always, the American Red Cross was prepared for the worst. Other citizen volunteers were mindful of ways they could assist, along with churches and organizations ready to head to the scene or send other needed resources. Shelter communities materialized for people displaced by the storm and in need of housing, health care, food and clothing.
Also notable was the response by a state contingent prepared to contribute in a variety of ways. The Kansas Division of Emergency Management reported they would be ready to transport people and animals trapped by flooding and the storm surge, and also provide basic medical care and other search-and-rescue efforts.
The urban search-and-rescue team of first-responders initially headed to Florida and then up the coast. The group included participants from across Kansas in the Chanute Fire Department, City of Winfield, Coffeyville Fire Department, Derby Fire Department, Johnson County MED-ACT, Junction City Fire Department, Kansas City, Kan., Fire Department, Kansas Task Force K9, Lawrence Fire Department, Manhattan Fire Department, Mission Township Fire Department, Olathe Fire Department, Office of the State Fire Marshal, Pittsburg Fire Department, Salina Fire Department, Shawnee County Fire District 4, Shawnee Fire Department and Wichita Fire Department.
The group returned safely to Kansas on Sunday.
“I am so proud of the quick, selfless response of our Kansas task force,” Gov. Laura Kelly said in a release Sunday. “It is reassuring to know that when disaster strikes, we have individuals who are ready, at a moment’s notice, to give their valuable time and expertise, not only in our own state, but wherever the call is needed. Multiple agencies gave up time and resources to assist our fellow states of Florida and North Carolina. It was a successful effort, and I am relieved that everyone has returned home safely.”
All of the Kansans who went to the hurricane zone knew their first priority was helping Americans in need. At the same time, the experience also will make a difference in emergency preparedness and response efforts moving forward, as there's always much to learn in each relief effort.
The threat from Hurricane Dorian also proved once again how generous and caring Kansans are in times of trouble. This state does, after all, know the painful fallout of weather-related disasters in a part of the country where tornadoes materialize with greater frequency.
People hurt by the storm won’t forget. When disasters strike elsewhere, many of those folks will do what they can to return the favor — just one of many outcomes we can expect when Americans encounter a natural disaster.