New York

Elite NYPD, FDNY Task Force Fly Out for Irma Recovery

As many residents in Florida look to get out of Hurricane Irma's path, first responders and volunteers in New York are heading in to help.

Task Force 1, comprised of FDNY, five highly trained police K-9s and NYPD's elite Emergency Services Unit, are heading south to help. Task Force 1 helped out in Texas during Harvey, making contact with hundreds of people. Now they're ready to help again.

"They're trained in rappelling, they're trained in tactics -- they have more training than any other cop in NYC does," said NYPD Chief of Special Operations Harry Wedin.

The mission will take the team to the Carribbean, and possibly a rescue mission to Florida in the next few days. The crew will be first be deployed from Robbins Air Force Base in Georgia to Puerto Rico via C17 military plane, according to Wedin. From there, they'll be using helicopters to go to St. John, St. Martin and St. Croix, and help conduct evacuations from the islands. 

"The morale is great," said Wedin. "They're really looking forward to helping people. They live to do this stuff." 

Wedin helped lead Task Force 1's rescue and recovery efforts after the earthquake in Haiti and after Hurricane Katrina. 

In New Jersey, the famed Army National Guard's 253rd Transportation Company is also on its way, loading up supplies onto high-wheeled trucks. More than 100 troops are making the 1,300-mile trek south. 

The American Red Cross is also mobilizing hundreds of volunteers and supplies from its West 49th Street location, planning to help shelter 120,000 people in Florida.

"We are expecting that this is going to be one of our largest responses, possibly ever," said Desiree Ramos Reiner of the American Red Cross.

Reiner says Red Cross is recruiting and training volunteers "in order to be able to have a constant flow of people being able to go down there and help local residents." 

The two major storms -- Harvey and Irma -- in such a short time is providing a challenge to coordinating relief efforts. The Red Cross says it has 3,500 relief workers in Houston responding to Hurricane Harvey. They will send an entirely new team to Florida for Hurricane Irma. 

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