The Delaware Forest Service is leading a team of 20 volunteers, 13 from Delaware and Maryland, and seven from West Virginia, to form an all-hazard response team to aid the Federal Emergency Management Agency in post-hurricane relief efforts in the New York state region. The assignment follows up on the recent return of 20 Delaware firefighters who battled a 6,000-acre fire in Virginia’s Great Dismal Swamp, largely contained due to rainfall from Hurricane Irene.
The Delaware-West Virginia contingent is currently based at the Stewart Air National Guard Base near Newburgh in Orange County, N.Y. The crew is led by Delaware’s state forestry administrator, Michael A. Valenti of Dover. Depending on cell phone conditions and work responsibilities, Valenti may be contacted for updates at 302-233-1996.
Though primarily focused on wildfires, the Delaware Forest Service has also mobilized teams for all-hazard events such as hurricanes, natural disasters, or other emergencies. In 2004, Delaware sent a 20-person crew to Orlando, Fla., to help residents in the aftermath of Hurricane Jeanne, which caused at least four deaths and an estimated $6.8 billion in property damage in the United States alone.
Shown at the Stewart Air National Guard Base are in back (l-r) Michael Valenti, Dover; Brian Ward, Houston; Grant Pittaway, Delaware City; Robert Baldwin, Worton, Md.; Scott Veasey, Millsboro; Michael Krumrine, Magnolia; and Nathaniel Sommers, Smyrna. In the middle are Tim Moore, New Castle; Timothy Laird, Wilmington; Eva Wilson, Newark; Justin DelCollo, Middletown; Jason Jones, W.Va.; Marc Rider, W. Va; Todd Gsell, Townsend; Timothy Casto, W.Va.; and D'andre Hawkins, W.Va. In front are James Ross, W.Va.; Howard "Duke" Harrison, Wilmington; Randall Nestor, W.Va.; and Delvin Judge, W.Va.