May 1, 2014

Helping neighbors in Quapaw

Mayes Co. EM, GRDA on scene

May 1, 2014 Staff Writer Cydney Baron

PRYOR, OK — Mayes County Emergency Management and Grand River Dam Authority lent a helping hand after the Quapaw tornado.

“The tornado touched down at 5:30 p.m. Sunday, and they had called and requested our help within 10 minutes,” said Mayes County Emergency Management Deputy Director Mike Dunham, who traveled to Quapaw with Director Johnny Janzen.

“The state of Oklahoma’s Emergency Management requested us and asked that we bring two light towers, which we purchased with grant money. We also assisted with incident command and coordinating resources at the initial onset,” said Dunham.

MCEM typed up the town’s disaster declaration and helped start the paperwork process.

“One of our light towers was placed at the Quapaw Police Department so they could still function, the other was placed at their fire department. The tornado caused some damage to their fire department but it was sound enough for us to utilize it. The fire department served as the instant command post.” said Dunham.

When Mayes County responders arrived, they were asked to help in securing one 200kW generator to power Quapaw’s water well. MCEM said repairing infrastructure is among the first priorities.

“GRDA was there assisting, so we asked them if they had large generator. They generously provided a 200kw and a 150 kW,” said Dunham. “They even brought an additional 200kW generator that wasn’t requested but was definitely needed.”

MCEM provided two additional generators which were used to power the town’s lift stations controlling water and sewage and the Quapaw school that was used as a shelter.

Dunham said the town anticipated being powered by generators up to five days before Empire Electric restored power to the town.

“We were definitely fighting darkness, which is why our light towers were so crucial. By the time we got there, they had already done their initial and secondary searches,” said Dunham. “There was a nursing home there, that thankfully was running on a back-up gas generator. Otherwise, we would have had to evacuate the 150 residents.”

Justin Alberty, GRDA’s  Corporate Communications Director, said GRDA police were on scene lending some needed manpower as well.

“MCEM was simply responding to emergency. We were blown away by the generosity of GRDA though, they were going above and beyond to help just out of generosity,” said Dunham, who added that Quapaw isn’t powered by GRDA.

He said the citizens of Quapaw were passionately wanting to lend a hand to recovery efforts and were cooperative in letting emergency crews do their jobs.

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