Hurricane Fiona: Maryland first responders prepare to travel to Puerto Rico – FOX 5 DC

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First responders from Maryland are expected to travel to Puerto Rico Monday to help provide relief after Hurricane Fiona knocked out power and triggered floods and landslides.

Maryland Task Force 1 is a FEMA search and rescue task force made up of about 35 local firefighters and some civilians: 15 from Montgomery County and others from Prince George’s, Howard, Fredrick and Anne Arundel counties.

Staged and ready. MDTF-1 has been activated for a mission to Puerto Rico. (MCFRSNews / @MCFRSNews)

Hurricane Fiona battered Puerto Rico Sunday, making landfall around 3:20 p.m. and leaving the entire island without power.

Montgomery County Fire Assistant Chief Daniel Ogren said the task is the only federal task force heading to the island, at least for now.

“We have rescue and search personnel. We have hazardous materials personnel. We have medical personnel, including doctors,” Ogren said Sunday. “We have canines for search, we have engineers. So they all have equipment to help them do their jobs.”

He said firefighters were ready to depart 5 p.m. Saturday, but had trouble getting a flight. Then their Sunday morning flight was canceled, and plans were made to depart Monday morning.

“It can be frustrating for the response personnel. They want to get there, they want to be in place, they want to be there to help people,” Ogren said. “And when issues like this come up, we’re used to them, they happen all the time especially with these federal responses, but it never gets any easier.”

He says every mission is for ten days, but it can end up being less or more time.

Ogren says the task force was in Puerto Rico for several weeks following the devastation from Hurricane Maria in 2017.


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