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South Florida firefighters head north to await Hurricane Michael

Group also includes doctors, civil engineers, logistics planners

DORAL, Fla. – People in Hurricane Michael's path will be getting help from across the country, including from first responders here in South Florida.

The South Florida firefighters heading north are trained to help people evacuate from their homes and to rescue people from floodwaters.

On Tuesday morning, dozens left from Miami, as well as from a training facility in Doral.

On the governor's orders, the 80 members of Florida Task Force 2 packed up their gear at the warehouse in Miami and headed to Ocala to wait on standby for Hurricane Michael.

"We want to come in right after the storm and start getting our feet on the ground and start getting to work," Miami Fire-Rescue Assistant Chief Scott Dean said.

The 45 members of Florida Task Force 1 also deployed Tuesday morning.

The motorcade left the training facility in Doral and headed to northern Florida.

Both task forces consist mostly of South Florida's elite firefighters, but the group also includes doctors, civil engineers, canine handlers and logistics planners.

They brought their tractor-trailers, box trucks, SUVs and boats with them.

"Last time we had a hurricane hit the Panhandle, all the roads were destroyed, so access into those areas, like on the beach, are going to be difficult," Dean said. 

These are the type of rescues they might be doing in the Panhandle.

Miami firefighter Carlos Pumariega spent 22 days in the Carolinas responding to Hurricane Florence and just got back to South Florida last week.

Now he has to leave his girlfriend and three children behind again.

"I'm going to miss them very much. It's very difficult," he said. "I've only been back about a week and we're looking at going out the door again."

The firefighters said they wouldn't be able to do this important mission without the support of their families.

Both task forces are expected to arrive to their destinations sometime Tuesday afternoon and they will stay in the Panhandle as long as needed.


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