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Battalion chief heads to Philippines

Profile image for By Megan Gray / Staff Writer
By Megan Gray / Staff Writer

Brian Glenn, Denton Fire Department battalion chief, spent Thanksgiving traveling like a lot of North Texans.

Glenn wasn’t traveling to see his family for Thanksgiving, however. He was headed to the Philippines to help those who suffered two recent natural disasters.

His assistance was requested on behalf of ShelterBox, a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing shelter and warmth to survivors of disasters worldwide. Appropriately named, a ShelterBox is just that: a box that contains a tent, stove, blankets and a water filtration system, among other items.

Glenn trained to become an active member of the group earlier this year, and has been standing by awaiting his first mission.

The organization is providing relief for victims of Super Typhoon Haiyan (known locally as Yolanda), which struck the Philippines on Nov. 7. The typhoon is reported to be the largest storm ever recorded, surpassing Hurricane Camille in 1969, according to the organization’s website.

Team members from ShelterBox were already on the ground working the 7.2 magnitude earthquake that hit Bohol on Oct. 15 when Haiyan hit with wind speeds at an estimated 200 miles per hour.

Officials with ShelterBox, a organization based in England, reported that they have distributed 422 ShelterBox tents and 349 ShelterBoxes in Bohol following the earthquake and typhoon.

Glenn said he was ready to go.

“It’s my first deployment since becoming an active member of the response team and I am looking forward to providing assistance where I can,” Glenn told the Denton Record-Chronicle on Wednesday. “I’m nervous and apprehensive, but know all my training earlier on will prepare me for what I am about to tackle.”

In an e-mail before he flew out of town Thursday morning, Glenn said he was flying into Cebu and will be based there for two weeks with his team of four. One person is flying in from Chicago and one from California. The team leader is from Canada and has been stationed in Cebu for two days already to provide relief for another team that was working in the field.

The group of four will be assigned to assess the islands in the archipelago north of Cebu for any unmet needs, but the assignment could easily change upon arrival, he said.

Since the typhoon was so destructive, an estimated 20 response team members are providing relief from just ShelterBox alone. Usually, Glenn said, only one team of four is dispatched.

While Thanksgiving is a time to spend with family, Glenn said that after a long career working for the fire department, he is used to being on call.

“My wife is a nurse and she actually is prepared to work Thanksgiving already,” he said. “What better way to give thanks than to actually serve ... giving back is what the holiday is all about.”

MEGAN GRAY can be reached at 940-566-6885 and via Twitter at @MGrayNews.