Area emergency personnel head north to help with Florence

Lee Herald Favicon 16Hurricane Florence is threatening massive storm surge as it barrels towards the Carolinas, but emergency personnel from around the sunshine state, including a team from Southwest Florida, are on the way to lend their expertise and support.

The storm was about 200 miles from Myrtle Beach, South Carolina as of 8 a.m. Thursday, with the center moving 12 miles per hour. Florence has been downgraded to a Category 2 but maintains a massive size, with winds of 110 mph at the core of the storm. The hurricane’s most dangerous feature seems to be flooding, with a storm surge as high as 13 feet predicted.

Florence is expected to make landfall sometime Friday, and may possibly stall on the coast before making a course correction. Due to the size of the storm, this will likely mean sustained tropical storm or hurricane force winds for parts of both the Carolinas and Virginia.

This time last year, Southwest Florida was facing down the possibility of 13 foot storm surges from Hurricane Irma before the storm stalled over Cuba, losing a large portion of its energy. Even with the reduction in power, statewide electricity outages, gasoline shortages, and major flooding followed. Emergency service and utility workers from around the country rushed down to fill in the gaps, and now Florida is returning the favor.

Two ambulances full of EMS workers from Southwest Florida headed north on Tuesday to join up with other emergency workers around the state. They will form one of the five ambulance strike teams traveling to the southeast in order to assist with medical evacuations. Governor Rick Scott announced Wednesday that Florida is sending a diverse mix of experienced medical, disaster response, and utility personnel to assist both before and after Florence makes landfall.

Two Urban Search and Rescue teams have been deployed to North and South Carolina

The Florida Department of Health has deployed a nursing strike team of 29 individuals to North Carolina to assist with their special needs sheltering operations.

Five ambulance strike teams are deploying to North Carolina to assist with medical evacuations.

Three teams of emergency management specialists from the Florida State Emergency Response Team are deploying to North Carolina to assist with operations and planning in response to the storm.

Florida utility companies are sending multiple crews to stage and prepare for post-impact restoration of power. More than 2,000 personnel have already been deployed.

“We will continue to do all we can to support our neighbors in the Southeast as we prepare for Hurricane Florence, “said Scott in a release on Wednesday. “In Florida, we are fortunate to have the best emergency management professionals in the world to respond to disasters in our state and to help other states during times of emergency.”

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