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Mountain West Firefighters And Volunteers Head East To Respond To Hurricane Florence

NASA's Terra satellite took this image of Hurricane Florence on Sept. 12, 2018.
NASA's Terra satellite took this image of Hurricane Florence on Sept. 12, 2018.

Teams of people from the Mountain West, including firefighters and Red Cross volunteers, have already been deployed to the East Coast in preparation for Hurricane Florence.

Colorado and Utah are sending members of their Urban Search and Rescue Task Force One teams to the area to provide support. There are 28 FEMA-funded teams like this across the country, set up to respond to local state and national disasters.

Rod Tyus leads the Colorado Task Force One, which sent 47 people to North Carolina this week. Tyus said they’re on the ground working with other agencies. “They’ll be assigned to work on search and rescue,” he said.

Most of the members are working firefighters, but Tyus said there are also structural engineers, doctors, certified drivers, and swiftwater rescuers.

Utah’s Task Force One team sent 16 of its responders.

Scores of Red Cross volunteers from across the Mountain West are also on the East Coast helping prepare for the storm. They’ll be there offering food, water, and emergency shelter.

“We have about 35 people from Colorado and Wyoming that are volunteers that have come here to North Carolina and South Carolina to take care of people especially following the storm,” said Bill Fortune, a spokesperson with the Red Cross.

Fortune said being out there to help just makes common sense.

“When we have a major disaster in Colorado, such as the wildfires, the floods, things like that, people from all over the country came to Colorado to help us,” he said. “Likewise, when disasters happen in other parts of the country, our volunteers want to be there to reciprocate.”

Red Cross volunteers from Montana, Idaho, and Utah are also part of the relief effort.

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, Yellowstone Public Radio in Montana, KUER in Salt Lake City and KRCC and KUNC in Colorado.

Copyright 2020 91.5 KRCC. To see more, visit .

Ali Budner is KRCC's reporter for the Mountain West News Bureau, a journalism collaborative that unites six stations across the Mountain West, including stations in Colorado, Idaho, Wyoming, Utah, and Montana to better serve the people of the region. The project focuses its reporting on topic areas including issues of land and water, growth, politics, and Western culture and heritage.