ROCKVILLE, Md. (WJZ) — Hurricane Michael is approaching the U.S. coastline and crews from Maryland are being deployed to assist local responders. The governors of Florida and Alabama declared states of emergency in anticipation of the life-threatening storm.
The expectation are – that like flooding from Hurricane Florence – Hurricane Michael will also leave people stranded, and in some cases, at risk from drowning.
A Swift Water Search and Rescue Team deployed out of Rockville in Montgomery County Tuesday morning. Officials said the team includes 16 to 20 members, and they headed to Florida, Georgia, and Alabama.
“They’re able to go, extricate and trasport people out of harm’s way, and with swift water go and rescue people from the trees, the cars, fromactual areas where the water is churning with quite a high velocity,” said Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Chief Scott Goldstein.
This team is made up of 16 members and four boats, two rafts for swift water, and two john boats for flat water rescues. The team must also carry enough provisions and fuel to be self-sufficient for the first three days.
Task Force One will arrive in Florida Wednesday morning.
Members of the Montgomery County Fire Department, the Prince George’s County Fire Department, and the Howard County Fire Department make up the team.
The flooding that endangers lives also threatens rescuers, who reduce risk with training “to ensure that they’re not walking over the top of a manhole, or walking over a hidden submerged trip hazard in the water, and they get sucked into because those are real and persistent dangers,” Goldstein added.
According to officials, FEMA activated 8 teams across the country to assist with rescue efforts. Two large, 80 person teams from Texas and Tennessee were deployed. Six other ‘mission ready’ Swift Water Rescue Teams were deployed from Indiana, Missouri, Virginia, Ohio and Maryland.
Swift water rescue teams recently returned from down south after assisting with Hurricane Florence.