Area boaters begin getting organized for possible rescues from Hurricane Irma

Posted at 11:21 PM, Sep 05, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-05 23:21:34-04

The sheriff’s office is mapping out extra resources that are available in the county ahead of Hurricane Irma.

Today the sheriff’s office posted a request for volunteers on Facebook. They want to know who is willing to help them by providing resources like airboats, a swamp buggy, large pickup trucks, and tractors with oversized tires.

They said safety is number one. Right now they are compiling a list of people who are willing to help and the resources they will be providing, if they are needed.

The sheriff's office says they want to know where those resources are throughout the county and that they will only contact people if the resources are needed for rescue and recovery efforts after Hurricane Irma has passed.

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Captain Darin Hood said they saw the amount of resources deployed to Texas after Hurricane Harvey and they want to try to stay ahead of it. They want to be ready for whatever Hurricane Irma brings to Highlands County.

“We decided to find out what volunteer resources we had available ahead of time instead of waiting until after, you know, we determined a need for those resources and then trying to determine which ones were willing to assist,” Captain Hood said.

Captain Hood said their county is semi rural and they are concerned about flooding.

“I hope it makes a turn, but we’re doing everything we can to be prepared ahead of time. We have several days to prepare so we’re doing the best we can,” Captain Hood said.

The sheriff’s office wanted to make it clear they will only call volunteers after the hurricane has left the area. The list of extra resources are only for Highlands County, but the sheriff’s office said they are prepared to share the list with other agencies. It’ll be up to the volunteers, if they want to respond outside of the county.

Marty Hickey, the owner of Hickey Excavation, signed up. He is offering up a variety of his equipment to the help the sheriff's office, which includes airboats, trucks, and loaders.

“I hope we’re not needed, but if we are, we’re here,” Hickey said.

Hickey said he would help even if he has to go outside of Highlands County.

“Why help? Why not? It’s the American thing to do is help the people who need help when they need it the most,” Hickey said.

The sheriff’s office said they have been contacted by more than 70 people already, who are willing to help with rescue and recovery efforts.

If you want more information or want to sign up, go to