Poulsbo responds to hurricane disaster with a wave of support

POULSBO — The Big Easy could soon be inundated with the flavor of Little Norway as city employees begin preparing for opportunities to help the region cope with the devastation left in Hurricane Katrina’s wake.

Mayor Donna Jean Bruce announced Wednesday that city employees can volunteer for two-week deployments to the area through an effort spearheaded by the Kitsap County Department of Emergency Management.

“We are in the early stages of determining how we are going to help people out because of Katrina,” Bruce said.

City employees can volunteer to assist in the disaster relief once they complete the required application, get permission from their supervisor, pass a background check and receive the necessary vaccinations, she explained.

“They could be deployed for two weeks, come back and go back two or three times,” she said, noting that the effort is currently scheduled to last six months.

During the two-week deployments, city employees will receive their regular pay from the city, but any overtime would be paid by the state or Federal Emergency Management Agency, she said.

“Right now, they need mass care, pharmacists and call-takers,” Bruce explained. “Eventually, they’ll need public works people and inspectors as well.”

Three police officers have already volunteered as soon as the opportunity was announced, she said.

Police Chief Jeff Doran said his department is ready to help in any way it can as relief efforts continue gaining momentum.

“As soon as they get the word, we’ll check our schedule and if we can accommodate them without affecting our coverage, we’ll do it,” Doran said. “We’re definitely interested in helping out.”

Officers are already filling out the required paperwork and are preparing themselves for the opportunity if it arises, he explained.

“I think everyone is doing what they can, because no one has ever had to deal with something like this,” Doran said.

While security and law enforcement needs are at the top of the list as the area rebuilds, other city departments could be affected as well.

As employees begin volunteering, Human Resources Analyst Deanna Kingery is encouraging department heads to begin reviewing their staffing requirements.

“Once we start getting responses from employees, department heads will begin to assess their needs,” Kingery explained.

The response to the disaster is something that the city needs to do, Bruce said.

“We need to do our share, because if the big one hits here, we’re going to need them to help out,” she said.

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