By Ted Scouten

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – When the monster Category 4 Hurricane Ida began to threaten the Gulf Coast, both of South Florida’s urban search and rescue teams raced to help.

They loaded up their gear and made their way near the storm zone, setting up camp in Mississippi, waiting for a call to assist.

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“I believe that all of us who are involved in this type of work and this type of passion and profession are all serving a calling of some type,” said Maggie Castro with Miami-Dade Fire Rescue.

This is the core belief of Castro and the other women and men of South Florida’s two urban search and rescue teams.

“We’re all doing it because, not because we don’t have a choice, we all have a choice, but this is what we chose to do,” she said. “We chose to be a part of this incredible family that just wants to help and do whatever it takes for our community and community of others.”

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That’s what guided South Florida Urban Search and Rescue Teams 1 and 2 as they raced toward the danger posed by monster Cat 4 Hurricane Ida.

“We are always ready and we are proud to go serve where ever we are needed,” said Castro. “They needed us in Louisiana and we were here, ready to help them any way they needed.  We were in Mississippi, ready to assist.  Anything they need we were ready.”

This latest deployment comes just two months after the Surfside building collapse. Both teams spent a month on the mound, searching for survivors and recovering those who did not make it.

Despite the physical and emotional toll, they knew their efforts on the gulf Coast could mean the difference between life and death of someone in need.

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“This is what our passion is. We understand it takes us away from our families and sometimes it takes us away for an extended period of time,” said Castro. “This is what we all feel the need to do, and we want to be there.  We don’t want anything bad to happen but if something does we want to be the ones there to help people out.”

Ted Scouten