Bay Area crews heading to Carolinas to help before and after Hurricane Florence makes landfall

Posted at 5:31 PM, Sep 12, 2018
and last updated 2018-09-12 18:43:41-04

PASCO COUNTY, Fla. — Local crews are getting boots on the ground in the Carolina’s as Hurricane Florence churns towards the coast. Other crews are packed and waiting on the call for help from FEMA and other agencies.

"I'm expecting that they're gonna need some help, probably going to be overwhelmed with a lot of work to do,” said John Maddox, with the Lakeland Fire Department. 

He and other members of his team, plus folks from the Pasco County Fire Rescue will help man emergency operation centers in both states. 

"I'm sure with a lot of flooding they may need helicopters, they may need boats,” said Maddox. 

On the back end of the storm, the Swift Water Response Team with the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office is waiting on the call for help. They’re packed and ready to go with, "Life jackets, dry suits, wetsuits, helmets with lights, we have gloves and cutting tools,” said Lt. Jay Galassi. 

His team trains year round for disasters like this but say going to an area they aren’t familiar can be challenging when it comes to water rescues.

"I don't know what hazards are under the water, we don't know what hazards may be coming down through the sewage water, debris and such it's in the water coming at us,” he said.

Their two goals —  get food and water to people trapped, and help get those folks out of flooded areas as quickly as they can. If the damage is bad, these crews could be there for weeks. 

“However long that takes, and however long someone needs us there to do that, we’ll be there to do it,” said Galassi.