Local crews making a difference in areas hit hardest by Florence

Police, firefighters, and emergency personal from all over Florida are in the Carolinas to help support local rescues crews dealing with the devastating effects of Hurricane Florence. 

Beesan Mustafa with Pasco County Fire and Rescue is part of the All-Hazards Incident Management team that helps coordinate supplies to Florida’s emergency response team. He says crews are doing whatever it takes to get to those in need. 

“There’s a lot of flooding in front of the houses. There’s wires down, and tree branches down blocking the road,” Mustafa explained in a phone interview Sunday evening. “You are really hard pressed to drive a few miles down the road and not see crews out there cutting stuff and trying to make a way.”

Mustafa’s team includes crews from Lakeland Fire, USF, Pinellas County Emergency Management, Pasco County Sheriff’s Office, and Pasco County Emergency Management.

“Currently our mission is to go in and provide emergency operations support, working in the EOC, helping manage logistics, and obtaining additional resources,” explained Laura Wilcoxen, an assistant director with Pasco Emergency Management.

Crews from our area say the locals are already showing them their gratitude for all they are doing. One family the team came across paid for all the first responder who ate at a local Waffle House. 

“One of the best things we can do as human beings is to go help people,” Mustafa said. “Especially during these time when everything is crazy in the world. Some of these people need us most.”

The team plans to head into an area near the North and South Carolina border Monday morning, an area that was too flooded to get to this weekend.  

The team does not yet have a return date, but they brought enough supplies to last at least two weeks.