South Florida groups gear up to assist Carolinas with Hurricane Florence

More than 500 FPL workers depart Tuesday

MIAMI – Several South Florida organizations, including Florida Power & Light and the Miami Department of Fire-Rescue, are preparing to travel to the Carolinas to assist local authorities as Hurricane Florence approaches.

Florence, currently a Category 4 hurricane, is expected to make landfall late Thursday near the North Carolina-South Carolina border. If Florence maintains its strength or becomes a more potent Category 5 storm, it would be the strongest hurricane ever to hit the Carolinas.

Officials in both states ordered mandatory evacuations of coastal areas on Monday.

FPL plans to send more than 500 workers who will help local power companies restore electricity after the storm. The workers, including a number based in Hollywood, are set to leave Tuesday.

The private utility company said the trip is part of a mutual-assistance program with other electric utilities that Florida has benefited from as recently as last year.

"Thousands of utility workers from 30 states and Canada played a critical role in the unprecedented restoration of more than 4.4 million FPL customers following Hurricane Irma," the company said in a statement.

Miami Department of Fire-Rescue Capt. Ignatius Carroll said the department is deploying an urban search-and-rescue team. Members of the team were gathering Monday night to depart for the Carolinas.

Salvation Army volunteers from across Florida are also ready to provide meals to people affected by the storm. The charity group said the teams should be in place by mid-week.

"The units being deployed each have the capacity to serve 500 to 1,500 meals per day," Steven Hartsook, director of emergency disaster services for the Salvation Army, said. 

Florida Gov. Rick Scott said he has spoken with the governors of North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia and offered state resources to help prepare for the storm.

"In Florida, we're fortunate to have the world's best emergency management professionals available to lend their expertise and guidance," Scott said.

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