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Published October 30, 2012, 09:38 AM

North Dakota volunteers help with storm relief in New Jersey

FARGO, N.D. (AP) — Red Cross volunteers from North Dakota were in New Jersey on Tuesday helping in emergency shelters and a Grand Forks military base was sheltering planes from the Northeast state, which was one of several left battered by superstorm Sandy.

FARGO, N.D. (AP) — Red Cross volunteers from North Dakota were in New Jersey on Tuesday helping in emergency shelters and a Grand Forks military base was sheltering planes from the Northeast state, which was one of several left battered by superstorm Sandy.

Five Red Cross volunteers from Fargo, Minot and Dickinson flew out Saturday to work in the shelters for two weeks, after getting just 12 hours' notice.

"That's pretty special to have volunteers who are willing to do that," Red Cross Minn-Kota Region CEO Randy Johnson told The Forum newspaper.

Up to 10 more volunteers from the region might be tabbed to drive emergency response vehicles to the East Coast to provide food and water to people who will be cleaning homes and neighborhoods, he said.

The storm that made landfall in New Jersey on Monday night contributed to the deaths of at least 34 people. It cut power to millions of people from Maine to the Carolinas, shut down the New York City subway system and forced the cancellation of more than 15,000 flights worldwide.

University of North Dakota officials were waiting to get word on whether weekend hockey opponents will be able to make it to North Dakota, the Grand Forks Herald reported. The UND men's team is scheduled to host Boston University on Friday and Saturday, and the women's team is to host Clarkson, a school in Potsdam, N.Y.

Seven refueling aircraft and about 60 airmen with the 305th Air Mobility Wing at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in New Jersey were riding out the storm at Grand Forks Air Force Base in North Dakota. They arrived Sunday and are expected to remain until Wednesday or Thursday, the Grand Forks base said in a statement. The base used to be home to air refueling tankers before its mission changed.

The National Weather Service office in Bismarck from Thursday to Monday launched four weather balloons each day rather than the typical two to help with forecasting for the storm.

"It improves the models so that they can better forecast what's coming in," Intern Meteorologist Michael Mathews told KXMB-TV. "Doing two more launches, they have more data throughout the day to make a better forecast."

North Dakotans are used to harsh weather, but many watching news reports of Sandy were in awe of the storm's power.

"I'd much rather go through a blizzard," Bismarck resident Marla Schroeder told KXMB. "I can't imagine having to board everything up, and not knowing if your livelihood or home is going to be OK after you're done. A blizzard is bad, but not nearly as bad as a hurricane."

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