SAN DIEGO — As Hurricane Dorian passed over the Bahamas on its way to the Eastern Seaboard, help from all over the country headed to the area. Red Cross volunteers and firefighters from San Diego are among those deployed to parts of Florida and other states where the storm may have an impact.
Local Red Cross CEO Sean Mahoney and 16 other disaster workers from San Diego and Imperial counties have been sent to assist with the Red Cross response to Hurricane Dorian. Across the United States, the Red Cross is mobilizing over 1,600 volunteers along with 110 emergency response vehicles and nearly 100 tractor-trailer loads full of supplies including cots and blankets, according to the agency.
Mahoney said the Red Cross volunteers' main task will be to set up shelters for people under mandatory evacuations.
The San Diego Fire-Rescue Department is sending a five-member task force to Florida to help first responders there deal with Hurricane Dorian, officials said. Urban Search & Rescue Task Force 8 dispatched the team, and officials said they are prepared to send more resources if needed.
The San Diego task force is specially trained to assist local agencies nationwide in mitigating large-scale urban disasters, both natural and man made. The team's expertise is "confined space search and rescue" where structures have collapsed.
San Diego team members were dispatched to the World Trade Center after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, to Los Angeles County after the Northridge earthquake in 1994, to the Midwest after the 1995 Oklahoma City Federal Building bombing, and to Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina struck in 2005.
US&R was developed in 1990 by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in response to several disasters which occurred in the 1980s. The Loma Prieta earthquake, in particular, brought a significant focus on the federal, state and local governments' abilities to respond to such disasters.
It is estimated that millions of people live in the areas that could be impacted by wind, rain, flooding and high storm surge from Dorian even if it doesn’t make direct landfall on the coast, the Red Cross reported. The agency says as many as 60,000 people in Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina may need emergency shelter.
Hurricane Dorian was slamming the Bahamas on Monday with winds of 165 mph. Its track was dangerously close to a long swath of the East Coast from Florida to Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina and southeastern Virginia this week.
The slow-moving hurricane was expected to keep hammering the Bahamas all day Monday before moving toward the southeastern U.S.