ST. LOUIS, MO. (KTVI) – As the Northeast continues to recover from Sandy’s devastating impact, folks from the St. Louis area are stepping in to help.
“It was a long ride, we drove through snow, we drove through rain, wind,” says Randy Sanders, Task Force Leader of Missouri’s Task Force 1. The 80-member search and rescue team braved the elements to reach the victims. They’re now stationed in Flushing, Queens.
Sanders say the scene is devastating. He explains, “The part that we saw was just amazing—the signs, the trees torn up as bad as it was. We’ve been some other places and saw some damage; this seemed much different because it is so heavily populated.”
First responders aren’t the only ones making a difference. Baptist preacher Melvin Meade volunteered to drive a tractor trailer to New Jersey filled with bottles of water and other survival essentials. FOX 2 caught up with Meade as he was driving across Indiana.
Meade explains his impetus for helping out: “I was watching the news this morning and wished I could help in some way, but I’m 67 years old, I’m really too old to get out there and in people’s way. And then [my boss] called and said, would you take a trip to New York or New Jersey, and I said sure.”
Meade says it’s the least he can do: “I feel like I’m doing a small part for my age, that I can drive a tractor trailer so that’s why I was willing—I dropped everything and came up and started the trip.”
With roughly half of New Jersey residents without electricity, crews from Ameren Missouri and Illinois are navigating the maze of fallen trees and tangled cables to bring power back to hundreds of thousands.
The St. Louis region’s American Red Cross has also deployed five emergency response vehicles with nearly 30 volunteers to help out.
Several other local groups, including paramedics and a tree service, have also made the trek eastward to pitch in.