Emergency services and government bodies in eastern York County took the unprecedented approach of joining forces to prepare for and respond to incidents brought on by a storm that was predicted to bring historic damage to the area.
Officials in Wrightsville, Hallam, Yorkana and East Prospect boroughs, as well as Hellam and Lower Windsor townships combined resources during Hurricane Sandy, essentially creating one large response area.
"In this storm we all pulled resources and joined together," said Neil Habecker, mayor of Wrightsville.
The affiliation, which also included Eastern York School District, wasn't a formal union but did allow them to more easily plan for the storm and its potential wrath, he said.
Proactive: During Tropical Storm Lee, which took a toll on the eastern part of the county last year, some of the municipalities worked together to respond to flooding.
When it became clear that Sandy was heading for the county, the municipalities linked up again and additional municipalities joined under the planning umbrella.
A central hub, led by a single emergency operations coordinator, was set up at the Hallam fire station while each of the fire stations in the municipalities remained staffed.
"Coming into this, we got all our logistics together," said Fred Smeltzer, chief of the Hallam Fire Department.
Emergency officials also took a proactive approach to flooding and trees and wires down on roads.
Firefighters and police officers sought out blocked roads and called out public works departments to erect barricades instead of waiting for the public to call 911, Smeltzer said.
That, coupled with people heeding warnings to stay off the roads and the storm not being as severe as previously thought, resulted in fewer calls for such incidents.
During Lee, there were more than 20 calls for people who got stuck driving through water. During Sandy, there were no such calls, Smeltzer said.
When a call for down trees or wires came in, a fire official went to the scene instead of sending out a full crew to survey the problem and alert county officials, he said.
Meetings: Officials from emergency services, municipalities, authorities of the municipalities and the school district met before and during the storm to keep everyone abreast of the storm.
"I think it helped out a lot to be prepared," said Mark Enders, Yorkana fire chief.
A state Department of Transportation and state representatives Stan Saylor, R-Windsor Township, and Keith Gillespie, R-Springettsbury Township, also attended at least one of the meetings.
"It was a comforting thing to see these people put their heads together," Habecker said. "You're very well connected to local municipalities and at the state level."
Chad Livelsberger, Wrightsville fire chief, said the way the storm was handled worked out well and could pave the way for inter-municipal planning for other weather-related events, such as snowstorms.
"When you work together like that, it makes things easier," he said. "No one single community can stand alone during a storm of this magnitude."
- Reach Greg Gross at email@example.com.