When Superstorm Sandy swept though the Caribbean, U.S., and Canada in late October, it adversely impacted over 60 million people. Thousands remain displaced from their homes; millions lost power just as the temperatures started to drop below zero; and over 100 people lost their lives in the U.S. alone. Meanwhile, another so-called “nor’easter” storm has been hitting the east coast hard, bringing more heavy rain, snow and wind to the region.
The devastation in New York and New Jersey’s urban centers and shorelines has been featured prominently in the news. But little towns across the east coast were decimated as well. Southwestern Connecticut, for instance, lost 100% of its power after winds knocked down power lines and trees, damaging homes and blocking hundreds of roads. With people trapped inside their homes, the National Guard was called in to help.
Sergeant Ferullo of the Weston Police Department says, “I have lived here for 30 years and been a member of the coast guard for 22 years. I spent 45 days in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. And I have never seen anything like this.”
He and his colleagues lived and slept in the police station for over a week, responding to emergency calls around the clock while working without power or heat. Says Sgt. Ferullo, “I didn’t go home for 8 nights. The police, the EMTs, the fire station—none of us had power.” They had to keep in touch through smartphones, which they charged on a backup generator.
Most of the first responders in Weston and its surrounding towns are volunteers. Without the ability to charge their electronic devices—phones, portable radios, computers, and so forth—it becomes much harder to respond quickly to critical needs. To support this emergency work, International Medical Corps shipped 400 solar-powered chargers to the Weston Police Department in Connecticut for distribution in Weston, Redding, Wilton, Westport, and Easton. In addition to being distributed to first responders, the solar chargers will be given to district health workers who check in on medically vulnerable populations, such as the elderly, so they can reach emergency personnel if needed.
According to Sergeant Ferullo, “The solar chargers are a great tool. We are very excited about them. They will give the first responder community the ability to charge their devices to that they can respond to emergency calls.”