ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – As Hurricane Irma gets close to the Florida coast, New York is deploying a team of rescue specialists to prepare for the worst.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that the state is deploying 124 airmen from the 106th Rescue Wing of the New York National Guard to the U.S. Virgin Islands to assist in the response to Hurricane Irma. The team was expected to depart from Gabreski Air National Guard Base in Westhampton Beach Thursday.
In addition, a 35-member specialized team known as New York Task Force-2, or NYTF-2, left from Guilderland Thursday afternoon. The team consists of first responders and equipment skilled in structural collapse rescue, excavation emergencies, technical rope rescues, confined space rescues, and other specialized rescues.
They’re headed to the city of Clay, which is south of Jacksonville. From there, they will be deployed to the areas most impacted.
The crew that left from Guilderland consisted of first responders and two K-9s.
“New York has had much firsthand experience with extreme weather and the devastation it leaves behind,” Gov. Cuomo said. “Just as New York stood shoulder to shoulder with Texas and Louisiana during Hurricane Harvey, we stand ready to provide any support and assistance we can for our neighbors in need. From Florida, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, to the Dominican Republican and other Caribbean nations in Irma’s path, New York is here to help.”
While some have worked in disaster zones before, others will get to experience one for the first time.
“We will see more tragedy in our experience than an average citizen sees in their whole life,” James Hughs, of Poestenkill said. “What helps us get through that is the fact that we can lean on each other, and we can say, ‘Okay, we’ve done something to help these people move forward.’”
NYTF-2 is administered and operated by the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services Office of Fire Prevention and Control. NYTF-2 consists of personnel from OFPC and several local fire and rescue agencies. The additional local agencies represented for this deployment are as follows:
- Bethlehem Emergency Medical Services, Albany County
- Slingerlands Fire Department, Albany County
- Troy Fire Department, Rensselaer County
- Greenport Fire Department, Columbia County
- Albany Fire Department, Albany County
- Newburgh Fire Department, Orange County
- Schenectady Fire Department, Schenectady County
- Coxsackie Hose Company #3, Greene County
- Arlington Fire Department, Dutchess County
- Saratoga Springs Fire Department, Saratoga County
- Poestenkill Fire Department, Rensselaer County
According to the governor’s office, the team will be deploying with six boats for water rescue operations, two tractor trailers with equipment needed for urban search and rescue missions including collapse rescue operations, and two disaster search K-9 teams.
New York officials are in contact with Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic and other Caribbean nations to offer assistance in recovery where needed.
A typical mission lasts 14 days, but depending on the conditions, it could last longer.