Post Tropical Storm Irene, there are many communities still without water and power, but they have somewhere to go to get necessary supplies: Rentschler Field in East Hartford. The stadium parking lot has been transformed into a distribution site for food and water run by the Connecticut National Guard.
Sergeant Gerard Boffen of the Army National Guard said the team has been working here since Sunday. "FEMA trucks come in, civilian tractor trailer trucks," said Sgt. Boffen. "They come in and we offload various supplies, mostly water and MREs mealsready to eat. We've also received a small shipment of baby food and blankets. We also have a small area of cots that came in."
Sgt. Boffen said municipalities contact the state department of emergency management and homeland security for supplies, and it's the state agency that sends the orders into FEMA.
Parm Jeeth is the driver who's picking up the Town of Essex's order. He watches Guard members load 192 cases of water and 92 cases of meals ready to eat or MREs into the back of his truck. Before he drives off, there's papers to sign. A member of the Guard walked him through the paperwork. "So this is the request," the guard member said, "asking for two pallets and 30 pallets. I'll need a signature down at the bottom. They''ll bring over the last pallet and I'm going to get the signature of the state, and will bring you back a copy of each of these, ok?"
Jeeth will take the pallets to Town Hall. Each town is responsible for organizing distribution sites to get the supplies to their residents. Some communities have come back more than once. So far, more than 25,000 cases of water have been picked up since Sunday.
The National Guard will continue to staff the distribution point until the last order is picked up. Sgt Boffen said, "We don't have a set date at this time, ma'am. We'll be here until the job is deemed finished on our part." That means the Guard will have to move its distribution site closer to Cabela's in East Hartford so the UConn game can go on as planned this Saturday.