Local agencies take wait, watch approach on Sandy

EVERETT — Superstorm Sandy slammed into the East Coast on Monday with 90 mph winds and flooding, and local agencies are watching closely to see how many people they might have to send to help.

The storm has the potential to cause as much damage as Hurricane Katrina, said Chuck Morrison, regional executive of the Snohomish County Chapter of the Red Cross.

“It wasn’t the wind that killed the people with Katrina, it was the storm surge,” he said.

As of Monday, the Snohomish County Red Cross sent one paid staff member and one volunteer to help. Jodie Andrew of Bothell, a paid Red Cross staff member who works as a government liaison, was headed to New York to work in an emergency operations center.

Volunteer Steve Taylor of Sultan, a transportation specialist, was on his way to New York City to help coordinate ways to move people around road closures and trouble spots, Morrison said.

The Red Cross could send more people soon, depending on how much havoc is wreaked by the storm, he said.

“We’ll have to wait and see what all occurs the next couple of days,” Morrison said.

In 2005, the Snohomish County Red Cross sent 175 volunteers to the New Orleans area to help with the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, he said.

Sandy moved ashore Monday evening, the eye passing over New Jersey and 90 mph winds and high waves pounding much of the northeast coast. Atlantic City and other parts of the state were hit by flooding, and closures and evacuation notices were in effect across the Eastern Seaboard. Hurricane-force winds were predicted from Virginia to Massachusetts.

“It’s just a really bad situation,” said Steve Schmalz, a Mukilteo city councilman and Boston native. He and his wife, Christine, were keeping an eye on their East Coast friends and family, watching Facebook for updates.

The Washington National Guard had not received any requests for troops as of Monday afternoon, said Capt. Keith Kosik, a spokesman for the National Guard at Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

The state’s Emergency Management Division, a sister agency of the National Guard, sent two staff members to Baltimore to work in the emergency operations center there, Kosik said.

The Snohomish County Public Utility District sent crews to Ferry County, Wash., in July to help repair power lines after a windstorm but won’t be sending anyone to the East Coast, spokesman Neil Neroutsos said. Crews in the east have been trained differently and use different methods to repair lines, he said.

Schmalz has a sister in Philadelphia and many more friends in the area. He was confident they were taking the proper precautions, but still was concerned about power outages and that the slow pace of the storm could mean more rain, wind and damage in a concentrated area.

Bill Sheets: 425-339-3439; sheets@heraldnet.com.

How to help

To donate go to www.redcross.org, call 800-RED CROSS (800-733-2767) or text the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.

The donation goes toward shelter, food, emotional support and other assistance for those affected.

Contributions may also be sent to the Snohomish County Red Cross at 2530 Lombard Ave., Everett, WA 98201-3026 or the American Red Cross, P.O. Box 37243, Washington, D.C. 20013.

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