TWIN FALLS • If it was any other storm, the debris on the front yard wouldn’t have caught Roger Hinton’s attention.
He worked for the American Red Cross of Greater Idaho; he had responded to emergency situations before.
However, this wasn’t your typical wreckage. The affects of Hurricane Sandy left trees uprooted, siding peeled off homes and cars overturned and abandoned. Hinton was one of the thousands of Red Cross responders providing relief aid just weeks after the hurricane left its disastrous trail across the East Coast.
“There was this one car teetering on a slab of cement right by a house,” he said. “It was kind of unreal.”
On Oct. 29, Hurricane Sandy slammed the East Coast with winds of 80 mph and high tides much higher than normal. Streets and subways were flooded and millions of people were without electricity for days. Early estimates of Sandy’s damage range from $20 billion to $60 billion.
The Red Cross was one of the first responders on the scene of the hurricane and immediately began deploying volunteers from across the nation to help with the effort. As of mid-December, the Red Cross sent more than 15,300 trained disaster workers to provide help, according to the agency’s website.
Hinton oversees the Red Cross’ response program in eight counties in south-central Idaho. In early December, he was one of 15 Idaho Red Cross volunteers and staffers to go to New Jersey.
For three weeks, Hinton worked logistics at one of the Hurricane Sandy supply warehouses off the New Jersey shore. He helped allocate water, ChapStick, emergency meals and thousands of other supplies into loading trucks and emergency vehicles to be sent out to distribution sites.
While most folks in the west saw continual images of ripped up streets and damaged infrastructure, Hinton said that the entire area affected by the hurricane was not that extreme.
“The media wants the best image,” he said. “But you can go to many of the neighborhoods and not notice any damage.”
Yet, there still remains thousands of hours of clean up and billions of dollars are still needed to help finish relief efforts, Hinton said. While there may not be trees lying in the streets, homes still need assistance repairing water damage and city infrastructure will need to be built from scratch.
“The stench on some of these homes from the Hudson River was unbelievable,” he said. “I can’t forget it.”
Hinton worked with the New York Police Department and New York Fire Department to help direct emergency and supply vehicles to the right location. During his three weeks in New Jersey, Hinton said he left feeling impressed with the Red Cross emergency response program.
“We were doing stuff over there that I have never had to do with the Red Cross over here,” he said. “I learned that the Red Cross had vehicles that I didn’t even know existed. The whole trip was an experience.”