Valley delivers supplies, workers

First lady Laura Bush mentioned Youngstown's relief efforts in a recent speech.
YOUNGSTOWN -- Fueled by the compassion and generosity of Mahoning Valley residents, tractor-trailers full of donated supplies continue to roll south to assist victims of Hurricane Katrina.
Jennifer Thibodeaux and her colleagues of Valero Refining Co. at Krotz Springs, La., just northwest of New Orleans, continue to receive truckloads of donated supplies from the Mahoning Valley. Thibodeaux said four trucks have arrived from the Mahoning Valley in the last two days. She said the donations have allowed the relief operations based in the Krotz Springs warehouse to extend to a wider area and help more victims.
The Valley's relief efforts received some national attention when first lady Laura Bush mentioned Youngstown donations during a recent visit to Lafayette, La. She told reporters that help for victims is coming from all over the country.
"Pittsburgh, I think, called the mayor today, and Youngstown, Ohio, is sending trucks of things," she said. "And, you know, people want to help in whatever way they can."
Taking action
Two members of a Warren ambulance crew and four Boardman firefighters are among those from the Valley who are helping the victims of Hurricane Katrina.
The Warren medics volunteered and were mobilized by the American Ambulance Association. They began working Monday in New Orleans and will remain for 30 days.
The firefighters left Wednesday and will spend at least 30 days on the operation. The four volunteered after the request for aid came from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Boardman Township trustees supported their request. Trustee Tom Costello said the firefighters are headed to Atlanta, the staging area for FEMA, where they will be dispatched where they're needed.
The firefighters will be working in two-person teams on 12-hour shifts. Specific assignments will be determined when they arrive.
FEMA will reimburse the township the salaries of the firefighters during their absence.
Schedule changes
James Dorman, township fire chief, said there will be minor scheduling changes to cover the shifts so emergency coverage won't be affected.
Meanwhile, Congressman Tim Ryan of Niles, D-17th is co-sponsoring a bill that would make the Federal Emergency Management Agency an independent organization and require that the FEMA director be an emergency management professional.

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