Westover to serve as FEMA staging area for Hurricane Lee response

Federal officials are using a local military base as a staging area for any possible impacts from Hurricane Lee on New England.
Published: Sep. 14, 2023 at 12:18 PM EDT
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CHICOPEE, MA (WGGB/WSHM) – Thursday, Region 1 of FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, serving the states of Connecticut Maine, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Vermont, is setting up at the Westover Air Reserve base ahead of the possible landfall of hurricane Lee.

Western Mass News spoke to James Burn, a federal staging area leader for FEMA working with the effort at Westover.

He tells us setting up here in western Mass for Hurricane Lee was strategically planned.

“Generally, when we pick these locations, we look for a location that is about 500 miles outside of where the affected area could possibly be, so that we can respond within a day to get these things pushed out,” said Burn.

This isn’t the first time that Fema has set up recovery efforts at the Westover. They did it back in 2010 for Hurricane Earl and in 2021 for Hurricane Henri.

Response efforts that, Rodney Furr, Westover’s public affairs director, says are ready to be activated at any moment thanks to proper planning.

“We have continuous plans in place, so it is not a scramble to see if we can get FEMA out here. they just contact us with our emergency management, and they bring the operations out here,” said Furr.

A total of 35–40 tractor-trailers are expected here.

They are carrying water, tarps, food, blankets, and other emergency supplies that may go to people impacted by the hurricane’s strong winds and rain in the New England region this weekend.

“We’ve got parameters in place to kind of determine how many meals, how many waters per day that each person wants to be able to give to. So, a higher population area being affected would get more of those commodities than somebody in a lower affected zone,” said Burn.

Ahead of Hurricane Lee, FEMA is also urging everyone to prepare by signing up for emergency alerts and gathering supplies.