FEMA specifically requested volunteers from Florida because of their hurricane expertise

TAMPA, Fla - Pinellas County communication specialist Tom Iovino is packing his bags tonight.   Friday morning, he will head to New York City, along with another 14 volunteers to help with storm cleanup.

FEMA specifically asked Floridians to help due to our experience with hurricanes, according to Iovino.

"They want people who can handle big events like the RNC we just had," explained Iovino.

Volunteers from Pasco, Pinellas and Polk Counties will spend 12 days in the northeast.  While they will not be handing out supplies or even helping people dig out of the snow, they will help coordinate relief efforts. 

Millions of people are still without power and shelter since Superstorm Sandy and this week's Nor'easter hit.

"These people have been going non-stop and need people with experience to relieve them," Iovino added.

Area volunteers know the snow will present challenges.  Most were born in Florida and have little to no experience with snow.

Iovino, who has family in New Jersey, said he will rely on them for cold weather wear.  As for the rest, they will have to figure out how to handle it.

"They have a rude awakening coming," he said.

Volunteers will be blogging and taking pictures of their progress.  Updates from NYC will be posted to http://pinellasem.tumblr.com .

The team is expected to return to the bay area on November 20.

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