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1,000 Chainsaws Delivered: How GSA Supports Sandy Relief

Jason DeCrow/AP

In late October, when Superstorm Sandy battered the Northeast, parts of the Mid-Atlantic, and even the Midwest with heavy rain, damaging winds and devastating floods, the U.S. General Services Administration was ready.

While this agency plays a significant role in the daily success of the federal government, our job is never more important than it is during an emergency. When disasters hit, it is our responsibility to ensure that first responders and government agencies have exactly what they need, when and where they need it.

During both the response and recovery from Sandy, GSA has provided vital services to help get needed assistance to affected communities throughout the country. The GSA Disaster Relief Program provides federal agencies, as well as local and state governments with quick access to disaster and emergency related supplies, equipment, and services. This program has enabled us to work with FEMA to target resources as diverse as medical supplies, generators, rental cars, portable water containers, portable toilets, wash stations, and even all-terrain vehicles to provide appropriate support to a variety of recovery efforts.

Whether it was fulfilling a shipment request of 1,000 chainsaws to support FEMA's relief efforts in Pennsylvania, securing office space in New York and New Jersey for government agencies supporting the relief effort, or locating a contractor who can supply a rare relay part needed to assist the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey in getting the transit system back up and running, GSA staff found a way to provide what was needed.

Through our Disaster Relief Program we are making sure that the American Red Cross has access to the kind of important resources that they have identified as necessary for the recovery effort. We provided them with a comprehensive list of vendors to procure clothes for adults and children in shelters who have lost personal belongings in the flood. At the same time, GSA is providing important infrastructure in the midst of this crisis by making IT products and added services available to the entire federal government. 

During an emergency, this system can be used to provide invaluable IT solutions for preparedness, response, and support during an emergency. Our IT center also provides state and local procurement programs to assist in disaster recovery and emergency response. Thanks to their access to our agency’s cloud-based freight management program, FEMA has been able to ship 30 million pounds of much needed cargo, including generators, food, water, cots, and other supplies.

GSA has played an important role in the federal government’s response to Superstorm Sandy. The men and women of GSA are dedicated to public service and were ready for this opportunity to help our fellow citizens. We recognized the fact that the magnitude of this storm created significant challenges, and GSA committed to making sure that every agency and every community received the kind of timely support and the necessary resources that they needed to move forward. 

Dan Tangherlini is President of SeamlessDocs Federal. He previously served as acting administrator of the U.S. General Services Administration. Before joining GSA, Tangherlini was confirmed by the United States Senate in 2009 to serve as Treasury’s Assistant Secretary for Management, Chief Financial Officer, and Chief Performance Officer.

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