Teams of people from the Mountain West, including firefighters and Red Cross volunteers, have already been deployed to the East Coast in preparation for Hurricane Florence.
Colorado and Utah are sending members of their Urban Search and Rescue Task Force One teams to the area to provide support. There are 28 FEMA-funded teams like this across the country, set up to respond to local state and national disasters.
Rod Tyus leads the Colorado Task Force One, which sent 47 people to North Carolina this week. Tyus said they’re on the ground working with other agencies. “They’ll be assigned to work on search and rescue,” he said.
Most of the members are working firefighters, but Tyus said there are also structural engineers, doctors, certified drivers, and swiftwater rescuers.
Utah’s Task Force One team sent 16 of its responders.
Scores of Red Cross volunteers from across the Mountain West are also on the East Coast helping prepare for the storm. They’ll be there offering food, water, and emergency shelter.
@COWYRedCross volunteers are very busy helping organize the response to #HurricaneFlorence. Preparing shelters with the capacity hosting those with access and functional needs. Staying ahead of the storm as it nears the coast. Prepare prepare prepare! #bettertogether pic.twitter.com/myPfuoGDeH— CO & WY Red Cross (@COWYRedCross) September 12, 2018
“We have about 35 people from Colorado and Wyoming that are volunteers that have come here to North Carolina and South Carolina to take care of people especially following the storm,” said Bill Fortune, a spokesperson with the Red Cross.
Fortune said being out there to help just makes common sense.
“When we have a major disaster in Colorado, such as the wildfires, the floods, things like that, people from all over the country came to Colorado to help us,” he said. “Likewise, when disasters happen in other parts of the country, our volunteers want to be there to reciprocate.”
This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, Yellowstone Public Radio in Montana, KUER in Salt Lake City and KRCC and KUNC in Colorado.