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Local disaster relief groups respond to Hurricane Dorian

NOW: Local disaster relief groups respond to Hurricane Dorian

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -  As thousands prepare for Hurricane Dorian, many groups have deployed to help with relief including the Red Cross and Indiana Task Force One.

Three ERV’s or emergency response vehicles will deploy Monday morning in preparation for the storm. It holds supplies and food for hurricane relief. The vehicles will be deployed to Alabama but will get closer to the affected areas once the Red Cross know where the need is.

For many, Labor Day weekend typically means fun with family and friends, but for these first responders, it means heading down to Florida to help with Hurricane relief.

"Many of us have to change some plans for the holiday and so that just goes with the job,” Tom Neal, the Indiana Task Force’s Program Manager, said.

Right now, Hurricane Dorian is moving through the Bahamas and going up towards the Florida coast.

The American Red Cross of Indiana deployed 12 volunteers, 4 of which are from Michiana, to build shelters in Florida and the Carolinas in preparation for the storm.

“Pre-landfall we set up evacuation centers so that anyone that wants to get out away from the storm and we recommend evacuating,” Doug Farmweld, one local Red Cross volunteer said. “But if you can’t get further inland, there will be evacuation centers set up anywhere in the affected area that people can go, in safe and secure buildings.”

Farmweld said solid plans are currently up in the air.

“Right now, we’re mostly staging and waiting to see where or if it makes landfall,” he said.

Even if the storm doesn’t make landfall, they’ll be ready to go despite the amount of damage.

“There’s likely to be storm surge, significant winds and rain that could cause some displacement,” he said. “If that happens, wherever it is along the coast, we’ll set up shelters and evacuation centers in those areas.”

Indiana Task Force One sent 80 people to Florida Friday, one of those crew members was Tom Neal.

“We drove through the night. We did a tactical pause here in north-central Florida around Ocala, Florida yesterday afternoon when FEMA contacted us to stop our progress towards Miami because the path of the storm may have changed,” Neal said.

The team is spread throughout the east coast, on stand-by until tomorrow, awaiting more information on the storm's path.

“We’ve got teams scattered really from South Carolina to Orlando,” Neal said. “So we have teams and resources from the federal urban rescue system prepared to be moved when necessary to support the local citizens in the states that are affected by the storm.

They are prepared for anything.

“We have equipment ranging from the structural collapse of heavy reinforced concrete buildings as well as swift-water capabilities,” he said. “We’re prepared for whatever situation Hurricane Dorian may bring.”

You can help in rescue and relief efforts too, the Red Cross is always seeking donations, especially monetary donations because they are easier to send to crew already on the East Coast.

You can call 1-800REDCROSS or you can text DORIAN to 90999 to donate.

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