South Florida Responds To Tornado Disaster
MIAMI (CBSMiami) – South Florida agencies are gearing up and pitching in to help those affected by dozens of tornadoes across five Southern states.
The South Florida chapter of the American Red Cross sent three volunteers to the area Thursday, including Danny Torres, who will supervise a shelter in Birmingham.
Torres spoke to CBS4 as he prepared to board a flight from Fort Lauderdale -Hollywood International Airport.
“I know I’m going into a situation where a lot of people are going to be very depressed,” Torres told CBS 4’s Carey Codd. “They’re gonna be out of their homes. It’s a lot to swallow.”
Torres believes he has the training and experience – he also volunteered during the massive California wildfires – to make a difference.
“I feel I’ve been blessed all my life and I just want to give back to the community,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Salvation Army of Broward County received word late Thursday that several volunteers would make the trip to Alabama on Friday.
The group will take the agency’s mobile feeding unit which can feed hundreds of people each day.
Major Leona O’Bryant said that in a crisis the unit – known as the canteen – is a godsend.
“They’re just looking and saying, ‘I don’t know where to turn or what to do,’ but they see the canteen roll into the neighborhood and it’s like, ‘Oh thank you,” she said. “It’s like a relief to them.”
The storms are personal for O’Bryant. She grew up in Chattanooga, Tennessee and has lots of family there.
“I’ve been on the phone today trying to get in touch with people,” she said, adding that everyone she’s spoken to survived the tornadoes.
Florida Power and Light depended on borrowed power crews to restore the massive damage done by Hurricane Andrew in 1992, and now it stands ready to help restore power to tornado victims.
FPL spokesperson Sarah Marmion said FPL has dispatched 79 restoration contractors, 90 distribution restoration specialists and 13 transmission restoration specialists to Alabama to help restore power in the affected areas.
The line crews and their trucks left this morning for the Birmingham area, she said in a statement.
“In addition, we have sent 22 damage assessment specialists to assist the restoration crews in the hardest-hit areas,” the FPL statement said.
There are two Urban Search and Rescue teams from South Florida ready to assist if needed.
The Miami-Dade Fire Rescue team conducted its annual training Thursday. They practiced everything from scaling down buildings to tending to a victim who has been impaled.
“We have to be cognizant of changing conditions because we may have to pack stuff up and move for real,” Chief Jose Herrera said.
The city of Miami’s Search and Rescue team is also prepared to travel to the region, if called upon.