Peninsula fireman helps Kansas town

Frank Fraone is no stranger to disasters.

In the 17 years since he joined the Menlo Park Fire Department disaster-response team, the division chief has pitched in at the scenes of the Oklahoma City bombing, the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center and Hurricane Katrina.

Now, Fraone is in Greensburg, Kan., along with hundreds of other fire department personnel from across the country, helping the town get back on its feet after it was torn apart by a tornado May 4.

Roughly 90 percent of the town was destroyed in the tornado, which left 10 people dead.

“People are bonding together, and they want to rebuild their lives and homes,” said Menlo Park Fire Chief Harold Schapelhouman. Fraone has checked in with Schapelhouman twice a day since he arrived on scene Monday.

Greensburg’s first order of business is to clear all debris off city and county-owned land and streets, so utilities such as water, sewer, electricity and telephones can be restored, according to city spokeswoman Karen Watson.

“It’s going to be quite an effort to remove it all,” Watson said.

The majority of the town’s 1,400 residents are being housed in shelters provided by neighboring towns, or with friends and family. FEMA trailers can’t be set up until the sewer system is re-established.

As Fraone responds to crises across the nation, he gains experience he can use at home, according to Schapelhouman, who also responded to the World Trade Center attacks.

“We have a very good, very realistic understanding of what happens in significant disaster,” Schapelhouman said. “It gives you an understanding of how to manage large-scale events.”

bwinegarner@examiner.com


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