Cherokee Nation Firedancers, W.W. Hastings Corps officers help with Hurricane Sandy clean up

November 16, 2012

The Cherokee Nation Firedancers were dispatched to New Jersey this month to help in the Hurricane Sandy clean up. The firedancers stand with an unidentified Army official, center.

TAHLEQUAH, Okla. — A crew of Cherokee Nation Firedancers and three W.W. Hastings Hospital Commissioned Corps officers have returned from New Jersey after assisting with the Hurricane Sandy clean up.

“Cherokee Nation has long been in the business of helping others,” said Daryk Meigs, who supervises the firedancers, a team of Cherokees trained as firefighters and willing to serve when called upon.  “The firedancers are literally on the front lines.  Whether helping our own citizens or others, the firedancers will continue to be ambassadors of the tribe.”

The firedancers traveled to Fort Dix, a U.S. Army base in New Jersey on Nov. 3 and stayed 10 days helping the U.S. Army in the restoration efforts. During the 16-hour workdays, the group focused on sawing and removing brush along the roads of the base and a portion of railroad tracks. 

“There were a lot of trees down, and what buildings we did see were severely damaged,” said Billy Wacoche, a Cherokee Nation Firedancer who helped. “It’s a great feeling to go in and help these people clean up and get everything back to normal.”
The firedancers are part of a rotation with other tribes, who also deploy similar services to assist in disaster areas. The group returned home Nov. 14 and may be inserted back into the rotation.

Established in 1988, the Cherokee Nation Firedancers have provided a valuable service in the suppression of wildfire and disaster relief efforts nationwide. Three Commissioned Corps officers, who are nurses at W.W. Hastings Hospital in Tahlequah, were also deployed to New Jersey on Nov. 4 to assist displaced residents with their medical needs.

The nurses helped Hurricane Sandy victims staying at a shelter at the Middlesex County College gym in New Jersey. Stations were strategically set up to provide general medical care for those in need near the site of destruction. The Commissioned Corps of the U.S. Public Health Service deploys qualified health care professionals for up to two weeks often during natural disasters. The corps officers returned to Oklahoma on Nov. 15.
Cherokee Nation News Release

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