Vienna wing to spray disaster area
Local officials will meet to see what help is available here for the victims.
By WILLIAM K. ALCORN
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
YOUNGSTOWN -- Deployment of two Air Force Reserve C-130 aerial spray units from the 910th Airlift Wing in Vienna is the most recent act in a growing local effort to bring relief to states devastated by Hurricane Katrina.
The units will spray for insects that carry disease.
At 9:30 a.m. today, human service and other private nonprofit and government agencies were scheduled to meet at the Mahoning County Emergency Management Agency to discuss what housing and other help is available in the area for Katrina evacuees.
Already, several people from New Orleans have arrived here to stay with family and friends. Others are expected in the near future, possibly in large groups.
Evacuees' first contact for emergency food, clothing and housing services should be the American Red Cross, said Russ Preston, director of the Mahoning County Chapter of the Red Cross.
The 910th aerial spray units and about 50 reservists left the Youngstown Air Reserve Station Thursday afternoon for Duke Field, Fla., near Eglin Air Force Base.
Duke Field was chosen as the base of operations because of its proximity to the spray areas in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama; and its ability to handle C-130H aircraft and support the mission without conflicting with other relief efforts, a 910th spokesman said.
In coordination with the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 910th crews plan to spray the New Orleans area first, then work other affected areas as required.
Each aerial spray-modified C-130H is capable of spraying about 60,000 acres a day. Spray missions are normally conducted at dusk when the insects are most active.
Primarily, the insects that will be targeted are mosquitoes and filth flies, which can transmit diseases such as malaria, West Nile Virus and various types of encephalitis. If not controlled, the probability that people will contract these diseases increases greatly, said Capt. Karl Haagsma, a research entomologist with the 910th.
Haagsma said the product that will be sprayed is Dibrom, which is extremely effective in combating disease-spreading insects, but at the amounts applied is virtually nontoxic to humans.
B.J. Alan effort
The B.J. Alan Fireworks Co. was among the first here to send food and other supplies to the beleaguered South, and earlier this week received a letter letting the company know how much the help was appreciated.
The B.J. Alan supplies were sent to St. Landry Parish, about 156 miles northwest of New Orleans, which had received some 5,000 evacuees.
They were being housed in churches, community centers and various nonofficial Red Cross sites, but they were not getting food supplies.
A touching thank-you
A letter from a small nonprofit organization called ODC Volunteers, which supports the Opelousas Development center in Opelousas, La., said:
"I cannot express enough how appreciative and grateful these evacuees were to finally receive an ample supply of food, water, toothpaste, shampoo, combs, and necessary personal hygiene items they did not have and so desperately needed. I can see the distress in their eyes first hand, and have never experienced such a crisis," the writer said.
"From a small town Cajun Girl to so many wonderful Youngstown and surrounding Ohio residents, businesses and volunteers, thank you for helping such desperate people," she said.