HOMESTEAD, FLA. (WSVN) - Additional response teams are heading to northern Florida after Hurricane Michael.
Firefighters from various agencies across South Florida are again rising to the call and preparing to help with rescue and recovery efforts in the Panhandle following the hurricane’s landfall.
Armed with all kinds of equipment and supplies such as the jaws of life and chain saws, the first responders are taking anything they may need to assist in rescue efforts.
“They told us to plan for a week, so seven days. Could be shorter, could be longer but at least seven days,” said Sunrise firefighter Daniel Gamiotea. “I’m a little nervous. This is the first time I go outside our area to help, so [I’m] nervous and excited, but obviously there’s gonna be a lot of destruction, so hopefully we can just help out.”
This team, leaving from the Sunrise Fire Department, is made up of five rescue trucks and 39 people and includes first responders from Sunrise, Hialeah, Miami, Tamarac and Miami Beach.
“Once they arrive there, they will be given more task specific components, all related to what we do on a daily basis,” said Sunrise Fire Chief John McNamara. “Whether it’s fire suppression, medical services, search and rescue or technical rescue team components.”
Despite taking as much equipment as possible, the group may have to face a variety of obstacles as a result of the storm’s effects.
“Challenges may be like radio communication, just getting through roadways, even just if there’s heavy water in places and houses that are obstructed, making sure to get in there and find people and make sure they’re OK,” said Tamarac firefighter Max Lashin.
Lashin also said he is nervous, yet excited to help those in need.
“I’m anxious. Definitely a little nervous but as someone who went to school up in Tallahassee it would be great to help out the people I used to know,” he said.
The trucks left from Sunrise Wednesday morning and plan meet with another group of firefighters from Miami-Dade before heading to north Florida.
“I think we’ve learned over history that not one agency can handle these type of incidents on their own,” McNamara said, “so the State of Florida has done a really good job of having a state emergency response plan that’s coordinated throughout the state.”
Another group making their way up north to assist is the Farm Share food bank.
Three tractor-trailers took off from Homestead, filled with a total of 20,000 pounds in supplies.
The drivers headed north know their stay will be lengthy, but are glad to be helping out.
“We’re on the way; we’ll be there in a little bit,” said truck driver Todd Whitley. “Just hang on.”
“I’ve been looking at some of the pictures right now, and it’s just devastating,” truck driver James White added. “I really look forward to trying to help out the citizens up in there in the Panhandle.”
“In times of need like this, every little thing is important, and everybody that contributes is important,” said truck driver John Mayes.
The charitable food packing house already has 16 of the trucks in place in Quincy. The drivers will be deployed to the hardest-hit areas.
“Non-perishable canned goods, there’s juices, tons of water, cleanup kits, bleach, brooms, flashlights, batteries, blankets,” said Gussie Flynn with Farm Share.
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