Locals on the scene in Sandy's aftermath

2012-10-30T17:45:00Z 2012-10-30T19:43:04Z Locals on the scene in Sandy's aftermathSusan Erler susan.erler@nwi.com, (219) 662-5336 nwitimes.com
October 30, 2012 5:45 pm  • 

Fifteen paramedics with Highland-based Prompt Ambulance worked side by side with New York counterparts Tuesday handling emergencies in the wake of Superstorm Sandy, a company spokesman said.

"Our crews are on the ground in New York City working right along with the New York Fire Department answering 911 calls," said Prompt Communications Director Ron Donahue.

Contact was hit and miss throughout the day with the Prompt crew, part of a contingent of Indiana emergency responders who went to the East Coast in response to the storm, Donahue said.

"They're in New York somewhere, in the Bronx, in Queens, in Manhattan," Donahue said. "Everybody's safe. Everybody's working hard, and they will send information as they can," he said.

Parts of the the city were some of the hardest hit by Sandy, which began as a hurricane but combined with two winter storms and blasted ashore late Monday, flooding subways and neighborhoods and knocking out power and communication.

"They've lost cellphone service for much of the city," Donahue said at about mid-day Tuesday. "It's really hard getting any calls back."

Crown Point Fire Chief Greg DeLor said he received text messages Tuesday from city paramedics deployed to the Atlantic City, N.J., area devastated Monday by the storm.

"They're working with fire crews, doing rescues," DeLor said.

Tom Bettenhausen, a medical strike team leader with Indiana Homeland Security and operations director with Highland-based Superior Ambulance who also is part of the Indiana deployment, had little time to talk Tuesday.

"I'm helping treat a patient," he said from a location in the Atlantic City area smashed by the storm. As much as 80 percent of the city was underwater by late Monday, and both state and federal search-and-rescue teams had arrived on the scene, according to media reports.

Other Northwest Indiana-area natives hit by Sandy said they'd made it through the night in relatively good shape.

"We're still without power since last night," said Michele Hodgetts Slafkosky, a 1989 graduate of Merrillville High School and one-time Crown Point resident.

"The wind was pretty damaging," said Slafkosky, who lives in Westford, Mass., with husband John Slafkosky. "But we were fortunate. We have a lot of trees on our property, and a lot of branches came down but no trees."

John Slafkosky, president of Pie Guy, a Salem, N.H.-based manufacturer of all-natural pies, said the plant cut production early Monday ahead of the storm.

What started Monday with rain and mist quickly turned ugly by afternoon in Salem, John Slafkosky said. "At noon, the wind picked up. You could hear it and feel it from 2 p.m. on up until this morning."

The force of the wind blew the 6-foot, 250-pound Slafkosky to his car in the plant parking lot. "That's never happened to me," he said.

Azure Collier, who'd bought extra water and food in anticipation of the storm slamming her Lancaster, Mass., home, said she'd been lucky.

 "The power surprisingly never went out," the one-time Valparaiso resident and former Times reporter said. "We did have wind and rain, but we just happened to be very lucky."

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