MIAMI (WSVN) - South Florida is stepping up and helping our neighbors to the west.
The Global Empowerment Mission is quick to respond, working around the clock, even before Ian made landfall, Wednesday afternoon.
Pallets of supplies were loaded into big rigs in what will be a massive effort in the days and weeks to come.
“The immediate is basic family necessities, right?” said Michael Capponi, GEM’s president. “So you have food, hygiene, things like that that they may not have at this point, and then you immediately have to go into a phase of large amounts of tarps, unfortunately. We have 10,000 tarps coming in from Amazon.”
Donations coming in are big and small.
Some of the larger donations come in from big corporations like Amazon, on down to residents who are looking for ways to help those in need.
“Every day there will be two or three trucks like this that will be shuttling back and forth to the region, and the region will have a hub, basically by Naples, and we’ll have a hub in Fort Myers. We’ll have a hub in Tampa,” said Capponi.
On the search and rescue and recovery side of this massive operation about to unfold, Florida Task Force One is getting ready to go.
Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava addressed members of the team, “It’s your courage, it’s your skill, it’s your determination, it’s your love. It’s your love for people and community.”
Ninety-six members on Task Force One from Miami-Dade Fire Rescue’s urban search and rescue team will penetrate the hardest hit areas on the west coast.
Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Fire Chief Ray Jadallah said, “This is going to include water rescue, search and rescue, air deployments as such, and also render public service, if necessary.”
All these groups are working together to help those impacted by this catastrophe.
“Probably going to partner up with elements of the National Guard, try to do some flights and remove people from areas that [are] inaccessible, as I understand it at the moment,” said Jeff Rouse, Task Force leader.
“We have water capabilities, we have an air component that’s going with us, we have a lot of resources that we can get people if they are stranded in whatever capacity,” said Dave Varona, of the MDFR Urban Search and Rescue Team.
The team includes rescue specialists, doctors, engineers, logistics support and canine handlers.
On Thursday morning, Levine Cava was outside of the fire rescue headquarters with the crews to support them and say goodbye.
“They’re going in, they’re going into this area that has been so horribly hit,” said Levine Cava. “They’re gonna bring rescue, hope and love. It’s very moving for me to see this operation.”
Some members of the mission spoke about what is expected of them.
“We’ll do pretty much whatever it takes,” said a fire rescue crew member. “If people are stranded, we have water capabilities. We have an air component that is going with us. We have a lot of resources that we can get people out of any situation.”
Other safety officials that are headed to the West Coast are 35 highway patrol troopers who brought a high-water tanker, chainsaws and other equipment they may need to help residents.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission also deployed several officers to help with cleanup and the search and rescue effort.
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