Responders from Pennsylvania, New Jersey deploy to Florida ahead of Hurricane Idalia

Wednesday, August 30, 2023
Local responders deploy to Florida to help with Hurricane Idalia
The American Red Cross is sending people and resources to Florida. New Jersey Task Force 1 arrived in Columbia, South Carolina on Tuesday.

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- As Hurricane Idalia makes landfall in Florida, responders from our area are making their way down the coast.

We spoke with Captain Ken Pagurek from PA Task Force 1, which was commissioned by FEMA to assist residents in Florida.

The task force frequently responds to major hurricanes on the East Coast, including Hurricane Ian last year.

SEE ALSO: Hurricane Idalia strengthens on way to Florida Gulf Coast

Idalia became a hurricane on Tuesday as it intensified on a path toward Florida's Gulf coast.

"To come in behind the storm and potentially search for anything," said Pagurek. "It could be flooded neighborhoods, people need evacuations, collapsed buildings -- typical things you see post-landfall from a hurricane."

"It's humbling that they would request us," he said. "It's very easy in a large geographic area to become overwhelmed. So having us down there as force multipliers, it affords the most expeditious response to help anybody that might be in need."

Pagurek just got back from Maui helping with the wildfires. He was home for just hours before deploying to Florida.

New Jersey Task Force 1 arrived in Columbia, South Carolina Tuesday afternoon.

The team, trained in urban search and rescue, deployed Monday with 45 people and 16 vehicles.

The American Red Cross is also sending people and resources to Florida as residents there brace for the storm.

Volunteer Larry Daly, from King of Prussia, is in Tallahassee.

"Getting my trucks and supplies in because once the storm hits, my crews will have to go out and hand out supplies," said Daly.

He's prepared to stay for two weeks, maybe more.

"It may sound strange but I actually like it," said Daly. "You get to meet people in the field and you get to help families."

Two American Red Cross volunteers from South Jersey, along with an emergency response vehicle, will leave from Pennsauken on Wednesday morning.