30 MDFR and Miami firefighters head to the Bahamas for search and rescue efforts

DORAL, FLA. (WSVN) - South Florida first responders are headed to the Bahamas to assist with search and rescue efforts after Hurricane Dorian.

Fifteen firefighters with Miami-Dade Fire Rescue were up early on Friday morning packing up their gear at their training facility in Doral.

They will be joining 15 firefighters from the City of Miami Fire Department headed to the storm-ravaged islands for a joint search and rescue mission.

“We’ll collaborate with the local authorities to find out what the need is, particularly where on the island they need assistance with search and rescue,” said Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Battalion Chief Brandon Webb. “Then we’ll reach back and determine what assets need to be on the island, and we’ll send another group, basically to target those needs.”

Another 50 firefighters, 25 from both departments, will be deployed on Sunday to join the search and rescue efforts.

“Everybody wants to help. This destruction is very hard to describe, and having lived through hurricanes ourselves we know the need is real, and we can help,” said Webb.

7News cameras captured the first responders boarding the Balearia ferry at Port Everglades just after 9 a.m.

“One of the first things that we do is we interface with the local government, the Bahamian government, and let them tell us what their needs are,” said City of Miami Fire Rescue Chief Joseph Zahralban.

The firefighters were recently released by state officials from their staging in Orlando and will now head to Freeport. The crew said they will remain there as long as they are needed.

“Highly experienced and highly trained individuals that have responded to other disasters,” said Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Lt. Jairo Rodriguez.

Port Everglades is assisting with the locally-funded effort by waiving the fees that are normally associated with the type of trip they are taking.

“We wanted to ensure we did our part to get supplies, material and people over there to help as fast as we could,” said Port Everglades Acting Director Glen Wiltshire.

Also on board the ship are Bahamian people who are trying to get home.

“Just going to give the best support I can,” said passenger Johnnel Missick.

“I’m expecting to come back. I know it’s going to be a lot of trauma,” said passenger Demarco Mott. “We have a lot of trauma going on in the island right now, and it’s very intense. It’s very, very intense. People feel like there’s no hope, and that is when bad things happen, when we feel there’s no hope left. Just going to the island and embracing my family, embracing the other locals makes it better. It makes it real that there is help coming, and we are working every day to get that help to you.”

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