FLORIDA — After the nearly Category 5 Hurricane Michael barreled through the Florida Panhandle Wednesday afternoon, rescue crews across the state are now waiting to head up north to aid in recovery efforts.
- LIVE UPDATES: Hurricane Michael Pounds Florida Panhandle
- RELATED STORIES:
A Tampa Bay regional task force loaded up Wednesday night, preparing to head north to help with search and rescue efforts in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael.
The Bay area task force is made up of members of Hillsborough County Fire Rescue, Tampa Fire Department, and St. Petersburg Fire Department. All of them have been trained extensively for search and rescue after storms like Michael.
With jon boats, generators, and heavy machinery, they're fully prepared heading to the Panhandle.
"Not to say we look forward to (doing) things like this, but this is what we train for, and we’re glad to have the opportunity to go up there and do what we’re trained for and make a difference," said Andy Capeletti with Hillsborough Fire.
It's a sacrifice more than 70 people and their families made Wednesday night to help save the lives of families in North Florida.
— Saundra Weathers
The Pinellas County Sheriff's Office also deployed about 20 agency members, sworn and support personnel, to the Panhandle to assist relief efforts Wednesday night.
In Marion County, the Florida State Fire College in Ocala is serving as a staging location for emergency responders.
Emergency crews from Central Florida are staged there, along with a South Florida task force, which is composed in 26 agencies and 80 personnel.
All these agencies will be heading to the Panhandle to help in the aftermath of Michael. The groups will leave at midnight.
“We have sorts of equipment from heavy equipment to move debris off the roads, to access communities otherwise cut off. We have medical assests, we have K9, doctors, people from all walks of life," said Joseph Zahralban, Miami Fire Chief.
The Central Florida Urban Search and Rescue team was also deployed to the Panhandle to aid in rescue and recovery efforts.
A six member emergency team from Brevard County is headed to the Panhandle to support emergency operations.
Emergency Management Director Kimberly Prosser and Planning Coordinator Kate Dean will join directors from Polk and Flagler Counties in Calhoun County, hit hard by the hurricane.
Other volunteers may make the trip soon. The goal is to help that area recover from the destruction.
The team will be in that area for the next two weeks.
— Greg Pallone, Digital Media Team, Matt Fernandez
The American Red Cross in Central Florida also has volunteers ready to help those impacted by Hurricane Michael after the storm.
Volunteers are bringing hot meals, water bottles, snacks and blankets among other things needed for recovery efforts.
"We can be that helping hand and that shoulder to lean on, because these folks are going to need it," said Tiffany Edwards, American Red Cross Regional Philanthropy Officer.
The American Red Cross has about 500 people set to deploy from different regions. In Central Florida, 50 are ready to deploy by Thursday.
— Brittany Jones
A Sanford based company is volunteering its resources to care for people in the Panhandle.
World Housing Solution is ready to help with housing volunteers and first responders.
Staff will drive and deliver a Mobile Response Unit and a deployable shelter to disaster struck areas after Hurricane Michael. The two structures will provide space, power, and air conditioning for dozens of people to rest and recover.
“We’ll deliver this so that the state has a place for them to house and deal with people who are volunteering their time and risking their lives for other Floridians,” said Ron Ben-Zeev, CEO of World Housing Solution.
World Housing Solution is on standby. They will hit the road and drive the units up once they get the call from state emergency response officials.
— Cheryn Stone