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California To Assist With Hurricane Florence Emergency Response Efforts

An onlooker checks out the heavy surf at the Avalon Fishing Pier in Kill Devil Hills, N.C., Thursday, Sept. 13, 2018 as Hurricane Florence approaches the East Coast.
AP Photo/Gerry Broome
An onlooker checks out the heavy surf at the Avalon Fishing Pier in Kill Devil Hills, N.C., Thursday, Sept. 13, 2018 as Hurricane Florence approaches the East Coast.
California To Assist With Hurricane Florence Emergency Response Efforts
California To Assist With Hurricane Florence Emergency Response Efforts GUEST: Kim Zagaris, fire-rescue chief, California Office of Emergency Services

Our Top Story in midday edition Hurricane Florence is just hours from the Carolina coast and forecasters have actually expanded their predictions about how bad this storm may get. The National Weather Service says the area that will be blasted by hurricane force winds has doubled meaning far more people will have to cope with winds of 74 miles per hour or greater. The winds rain and flooding may go on for days. Teams of first responders and support personnel from California are among the emergency forces being deployed to the southeastern coast in advance of this storm. Joining me is Chief Kim Gareth's with the California Office of Emergency Services Fire and Rescue Chief cigarets welcome to the program. Thank you. How many rescue and support teams is the U.S. sending from California and what will their mission be. Probably from a rescue standpoint we currently have eight water rescue teams that were requested by FEMA. They are part of the National Mutual Aid for urban search and rescue that FEMA manages. We received requests for them and they're en route and some should arrive today. And so I'll be in place. There are going to be just like they would for any other hurricane they'll be rescuing people that are in high waters or that are stranded and anything else that may come up. There's also a support and management team that will be sent to the area what will they be doing so. Well actually there's two teams out of California that are headed there one actually from the Office of Emergency Services made up of our emergency management specialists and they will be assisting the state in their emergency operations center just like they would here in coordinating resources and situational awareness. As an example we also have a team of 16 personnel coming out of the Santa Barbara County area made up of fire officials from Serem from Santa Barbara County and Montecito I think Santa Maria therefore Vandenberg Air Force Base this is an example carpentry of Southerlyn and there are Type 3 in the management team. They're there for all risk and they're going into Virginia to assist the North Chesterfield a city has at least their initial actions in fact they left early this morning be arriving by mid afternoon D.C. time and. Will be assisting that area in water rescue and helping manage the overall operation there with the city and anything anything else they ask them to do when it comes to the California Water Rescue Teams what kind of experience have they had. Well I would think most of us would think back at Orrville we just had them all out during Oroville both for potential damage released as well as all the flooding that went along. In 2017 there not to mention they've also were out last year for the hurricanes both in Texas and Florida as well as Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands so because they're part of the FEMA urban search and rescue program which has a water component to them. They actually get out quite a bit. In fact we have also teams right now that are in Hawaii that looks like they're going to be released. The men who were there for hurricane Olivia. Now we're hearing that when Hurricane Florence gets to the Carolina coast it will be packing sustained winds of about 80 miles an hour with torrential rain and storm surge. What kinds of rescue situations do you think these teams will be facing. Well I think like anything winds are bad not but you throw the water and the situation in there and unfortunately the know people that are not going to evacuate were either they don't want to or they don't have the ability or be a number of reasons but they will be faced with if they actually have to be out in the middle of the hurricane. So very tough situations after the hurricane goes by and least you get the IPASS and the tail end of the storm you still have a lot of wind yourself some wind not as much but we'll just have a lot of high water. I mean they're expecting in some cases 30 to maybe 40 inches of rain and some of that area. And if it stalls it'll just make it worse. But they'll be dealing with everything from Swift Water Rescue to just flooded areas that they may have to rescue people out of to you know going into structures and making sure that nobody's in there to maybe rescuing people off rooftops just any number of things that they're asked to do. I understand that you've had personal experience going out to disaster zones all over the world. Can you talk a little about what it's like to be dropped into a situation like this. I'll be real honest it's you know these are some of the best sharpest brightest best trained people we actually have in the system. And there you know they've got a lot of adrenaline up and are up for the running. It's a challenge. You know they want to save people's lives. They want to do as much as they can to do good things. And so have challenges in front of them. But like I said they're a seasoned group of people and they're prepared for what's going to come their way. Are our real thoughts ours that are are with them that they return home the same manner they left us. And also our thoughts on their loved ones that are worrying about them. But like I said they're really excited. You know you imagine driving from the West Coast to the east coast. Trading off driving driving straight through so some are going to get there just in time was the weather's hitting so I'm sure they're going to be tired but like you said that adrenaline will be up and running and they'll keep themselves occupied as you get to situational situational awareness. Then you start getting requests that you're supporting the local government at the state level there and well jump in and do like we do each and every day mutual aid in this country. The fire service is one of the most basic things we do. You know fire department helping another fire department its neighbor helping neighbor. It's just really good. I always tell folks in this state we do so much mutual aid internally. In the last couple of years we've brought so much mutual aid in from out of state. It's always good to not have to do an on your home turf or in your own jurisdiction. You rather go help somebody else. And so they'd like to return some of the assistance we've been able to get in the last couple of years which is really a good deal. And we'll leave it with your good thoughts for their safety. I've been speaking with the chief Kim Garris of the California Office of Emergency Services Fire and Rescue. Chief thank you so much. You bet.

California rescue and recovery teams, along with support personnel, are headed to the Southeastern coast as Hurricane Florence prepares to make landfall.

The state Office of Emergency Services says it's deploying two teams to South Carolina and Virginia to help with everything from response and recovery to emergency management.

Five California-based water rescue teams are already on the ground.


RELATED: Hurricane Florence, A Large Category 2 Storm, Closes In On North Carolina Coast

A spokesman with the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department said a hazmat specialist had been deployed to the East Coast.

Kim Zagaris, the state's fire and rescue chief, discusses California's response to Hurricane Florence Thursday on Midday Edition.

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