South Florida firefighters head to Freeport to deliver supplies, help with rescue operations

By Madeleine Wright - Reporter

PORT EVERGLADES, Fla. - A team of South Florida firefighters left Port Everglades Friday morning to help those in need in the Bahamas following Hurricane Dorian.

Their mission is to search for and rescue people trapped in flooded houses or under the rubble of a collapsed building days after the storm passed. 

Hours before dawn Friday, the group of elite firefighters packed their bags and loaded up for the important mission in the hurricane-ravaged Bahamas.

"The human being is very resilient and if we can get in there, maybe we can provide help to those who don't know how to rescue themselves," Miami Fire Rescue Deputy Chief Alex Fernandez said. 

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A team of 30 firefighters -- half from the City of Miami and the other half from Miami-Dade Fire Rescue -- boarded a ferry at Port Everglades bound for Freeport.

While the U.S. Coast Guard conducts search and rescue operations on the coast, South Florida's firefighters will focus inland.

"Miami-Dade County is paying all the expenses associated with our firefighters and the city of Miami is doing the same. This is not a federal activation. This is local government helping our neighbors in the Bahamas," Miami-Dade County Deputy Mayor Maurice Kemp said. 

The ship is piled with donated food and water that has been dropped off at fire stations.

Some of the pallets belong to individual passengers on the ship who are bringing the relief supplies back to their own families.

"We have organizations that are sending them. We have organizations that are packaging them, but they're sitting in warehouses," ferry passenger Demarco Mott said.

Mott said he lost his home and business in Grand Bahama, but he's not keeping the supplies for himself. Instead, he's planning to give them to a foster home and hurricane shelter.

"Any effort to get it on the island into hands is where I'm trying to move forward," he said. 

Miami Fire Rescue and Miami-Dade Fire Rescue are each planning to send 25 more members to the Bahamas with extra equipment on Sunday.

AquaLucaya Waterpark, a company that was developing on the island of Grand Bahama prior to Dorian, has created a GoFundMe page to assist in donation transport costs.

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