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Florida first responders choppered into hardest hit areas of North Carolina after Florence

Posted: 10:58 PM, Sep 17, 2018
Updated: 2018-09-18 03:25:42Z

Search, and rescue teams from Florida were air-dropped into the hardest hit areas of North Carolina.

A 12 member FL SERT AHIMT, comprised of Florida Emergency Management, 
Pasco County Fire Rescue, Pasco Emergency Management, Lakeland Fire, Lakeland 
PD, and Pinellas County Emergency Management members, deployed to Brunswick 
North Carolina to assist with the local Emergency Operations Center.

Beesan "Moose" Mustafa said they drove around all day Sunday trying making it into the hardest hit areas by ground, but the major roads are all flooded.  The team had to be taken in on a U.S. Army Chinook.

"We couldn’t make it in.  We couldn’t get through, so they flew us in on helicopter earlier," 
Mustafa said.  "They are pretty overwhelmed right now.  There is no ground access.  It’s all by air they are still evacuating a lot of people."

Mustafa said they are in the gym of a local community center in Bolivia, North Carolina.  They were briefed 7 p.m. Monday night and were told to prepare for anything.

North Carolina's governor on Monday called Florence an "epic storm" and warned that some parts of his state "have not seen the worst flooding yet."

"This remains a significant disaster," North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said at a news conference. "The next few days will be long ones as the flooding continues."

First responders have rescued and evacuated more than 2,600 people and at least 300 animals from flooded areas, with rescues ongoing, Cooper said.

Mustafa said it was a 35-minute helicopter flight to Bolivia.  

"Lots of power lines down, lots of roofs blown off, lots of damage, significant damage, we were able to see from the helicopter," Mustafa said.  "In the briefing today they told us in the area that we are at there are three areas that have become pretty much islands."

The team could deploy for several days, two weeks, or longer. 

"We want to do our best we want to serve Florida," Mustafa said.  "Everybody’s ready to help and do what we need to get done and accomplish the mission in front of us."