S. Fla. Search & Rescue Ready To Assist In Sandy Recovery

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(Source: CBS4) Miami Fire Rescue Truck

(Source: CBS4) Miami Fire Rescue Truck

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Hurricane Sandy swamped the Northeast, leaving behind flooded roads and millions without power.

Tuesday afternoon, two incident commanders for the Miami Urban Search and Rescue Team Florida Task-Force 2 planned to board a flight for Charlotte, North Carolina. They then planned to drive North to a location of FEMA’s choosing.

“We’ll deploy ahead of the teams, figure out what resources are needed and actually call back and develop a resource list and put those resources to work,” said Miami Fire Lt. Charlie McDermott.

Eighty members of the team got all their equipment ready to head North to assist in the recovery efforts.

Team members began packing what they will need, including generators, cutting tools and lights, around 11:30 p.m. Monday night. The teams are composed of firefighters who specialize in search and rescue, communication specialists, medics and engineers.

“They go in, they take over the emergency functions, the search and rescue functions and they are completely self-sufficient,” Miami Assistant Fire Chief Joseph Zahralban told CBS4’s Natalia Zea.

The team members are now waiting to be activated by FEMA. Once they get that call, they will have four to six hours to either hit the road or load all of their gear into a plane. They are currently on alert status, along with five other USARs around the country.

“As Floridians we’re very understanding of what it means to go through a situation like this. So we’re also very eager to share our knowledge and also help others who are in need,” said Chief Zahralban.

They are not the only group from South Florida who plan to assist in the recovery effort.

“Based on our experience with tropical storms and hurricanes, we understand how difficult it is for their customers to be without power and we want to help,” said Eric Silagy, President of FPL.

More than 560 FPL employees and contractor restoration workers, in nearly 350 trucks, have been sent North to assist power company workers in Maryland, Virginia and Washington to restore power to millions.

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