JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Dozens of search and rescue members of the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department left Tuesday to head west to help with storm efforts.
JFRD Chief Keith Powers said he got the official call Monday night that crews needed to be ready to deploy Tuesday morning. He said 41 men and women volunteered at the drop of the hat to deploy to assist after Hurricane Sally passes.
He said they’re prepared for any situation.
“Because when you get deployed to these mass incidences, you don’t know what you’re going to run up against,” Powers said.
This is the first storm of the season that JFRD has responded to in order to help.
Keep this crew in your thoughts and prayers as they left their families today to help with the inevitable devastation Hurricane Sally will leave.... be careful out there! #hurricanesally #fltf5 #usar #helpingothers pic.twitter.com/FcZvOf8ZjY— MyJFRD (@JFRDJAX) September 15, 2020
Powers said that as of Tuesday, the plan was to send crews to western parts of Florida.
“The local crews will kind of go in and do an assessment, and when they say, ‘We have heavy damage in this area,’ that’s when our task force will start looking for people that are missing," Powers said. "If there are floodwaters, we have rescue attachments with this USAR group. They’ll go in and start making those rescues.”
Crews have everything from boats and chainsaws to listening devices to find people trapped under rubble.
But this year, Powers said that COVID-19 is “a pretty big impact for us.” Each person was medically evaluated before being allowed to leave, and Tuesday morning, everyone was cleared to go.
Powers said that as of Tuesday, the crews were slated to help for 14 days, but that could change depending on the extent of damage caused by Sally.