After spending the better part of a month helping New Yorkers who were hit hard by superstorm Sandy, the an emergency management team from Minnesota is now making their way back home -- and they're bringing priceless knowledge and training with them.
Looking at the pictures on his laptop can never compare to seeing the destruction Greg Hayes and his team witnessed firsthand. Hayes has responded to three hurricanes -- Katrina, Andrew and now Sandy.
"We kind of got a reputation in New York last year with helping with Irene," he said. "We did the exact same thing -- this was a bigger scale."
According to Hayes, that reputation actually had those fielding calls and requests for help before Hurricane Sandy made landfall.
When they got to New York, Hayes and his team were some of the people at the emergency management center in Albany. They helped orchestrate complicated logistics when thousands of people needed it the most, filling in the gap until FEMA could take over.
"We call it 'Minnesota Nice.' We go out to New York -- they are a little different out there -- and we help out. Whatever they want, we'll do and we don't ask a lot of questions. We just say 'yup' and we go get it done."
Wen New York needed more manpower after Sandy struck, the Minnesota team worked to coordinate resources from 27 other states.
"A thousand generators, thousands of pumps -- so what the Minnesota teams do is: Design a system to bring this stuff back to the staging areas," Hayes explained, adding that they turned the Mets' home field into a storage area for a time.
All of those resources require a signed state-to-state contract -- often within an hour, and the tools eventually need to get back to where they belong.
As awful as Sandy was, Hayes points out that Minnesota may be better off because of the experience the team gathered in the response. The next time a disaster hits close to home, emergency managers will have had plenty of practice.