Local National Guard heading to Florida to help with Hurricane Irma recovery efforts

An American flag is torn as Hurricane Irma passes through Naples, Fla., Sunday, Sept. 10, 2017. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

LATHAM, N.Y. (NEWS10) – New York is sending help to Florida. Fifty-five Army National Guardsmen and 10 helicopters are on their way to the hurricane ravaged state.

Helicopters filled with New York Army National Guardsman taking off from Albany on Monday to head to Florida to begin search and rescue missions.

New Yorkers take to the skies, unsure of what lies ahead but certain of their mission.

“If we can go and actually save a life, that’s incredible,” Captain Forest James Thrust said.

Florida has only begun to realize the impact of Hurricane Irma.

“A lot of home damage structural damage, roads that are unpassable,” Major Paul Bailie, Executive Officer of Aviation Task Force, said.

The Guardsman have clear priorities. The first is searching for and rescuing the stranded. The mission will evolve from there to delivering food and water and then to assessing the damage from above. All of it will take at least three weeks.

“You never know what you’re going to get but everyone is here, they’re prepared, this is what we train for, this is what we do, this is our mission,” Bailie said.

Joining in their mission in Florida is the airmen of New York National Guard’s 106 Rescue Wing who saved more than 500 people in Harvey-ravaged Texas.

Now it’s people of Florida in need. These guardsmen are ready to answer their desperate call for help.

“I think it’s going to be probably one of the most rewarding things we get to do,” Thrust said.

It’s a two day trip to Florida. They’ll first stop in Virginia to fuel up on Monday and arrive in Florida sometime on Tuesday.

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