South Florida first responders head north to help areas hardest hit by Sally

MIAMI – First responders from South Florida are heading up north to help some of the areas hit hardest by Hurricane Sally.

“Our big concern is going to be the amount of flooding, the water that’s going to happen in the panhandle,” said Scott Dean, task force leader of Urban Search and Rescue Florida.

The task force met up in Miami Wednesday morning to check in before shipping up to Tallahassee as Sally continues to flood the panhandle.

“Task force members sacrifice their home life, their work life, they do leave for an extended period of time -- the commitment is 14 days,” Dean said.

The task force is made up of first responders, doctors, engineers, and K9 units.

The K9s are trained to find humans who are still alive in collapsed structures in these disaster situations.

“It’s wonderful. Especially the fact we can save somebody’s life,” K9 handler Ana Kaufmann said.

The team was last deployed to Puerto Rico following the earthquake there, and before that they were sent to the Bahamas following Hurricane Dorian.

“The added element for them is to do it while maintaining precautions relative to COVID. This is the first time they’re deploying under COVID-19,” City of Miami Fire Rescue Chief Joe Zahralban said.

It’s a hero’s task the group is ready to take on.

“Ultimately, everyone understands what we’re here for,” Dean said. “We’re here to help people. That’s what our day jobs are, so this is just an extra opportunity to go out and help people.”

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