NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Dozens of elite members of the NYPD and FDNY as well as other local groups are stepping up to help with Hurricane Matthew relief efforts down south.
New York Task Force One, a federal emergency response team, was activated by FEMA Thursday night, CBS2’s Alex Denis reported. They’ll be staging operations out of Dobbins Air Reserve Base in Georgia.
FDNY Battalion Chief Joe Downy is the team’s task force leader. He said the team is fully self-sufficient and ready to engage in search and rescue and water operations.
“We’re a 45-member team,” he said. “We’ll be deployed as police officers, firefighters and EMS personnel and we have multiple positions on the team.”
The team is driving down in a total of 10 vehicles filled with an extensive equipment cache.
“We have many positions on the team from doctors to paramedics to heavy riggers, but I think our primary mission down there is going to be water operations,” Downy said. “We carry four hard bottom boats, two inflatable boats and our rescue specialists are all water trained.”
They were deployed along with other teams from the East Coast and Midwest. A unit from New Jersey is sending 80 search and rescue experts, WCBS 880’s Sean Adams reports.
New York Task Force One has traveled to major disaster zones before. They assisted with search and rescue operations in Haiti after a devastating earthquake in 2010 and to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.
Red Cross volunteers from the Tri-State area are also heading south to assist with relief efforts. Volunteers will be driving two Red Cross emergency response vehicles to deliver food and supplies to affected areas.
“When we get there, we’re ready to work,” said volunteer Arturo Guzman. “We will be feeding, we will be sheltering, we will be providing equipment.”
Americares, a disaster relief organization based in Connecticut, has also responded to help survivors of the storm.
Relief workers are already in Haiti and in Florida actively responding to the wounded and those in need. Spokesperson Donna Porstner says supplies from Americares are already being distributed in Haiti, where more than 280 people have died.
“What we’re seeing right now is that there is shortages of very basic supplies — antibiotics, wound care supplies to treat,” she told WCBS 880’s Fran Schneidau. “There’s a lot of patients right now with lacerations and injuries.”
Porstner says Americares teams were on the ground before the hurricane hit.