Local emergency officials head south to help with hurricane rescue efforts

The outer bands of Hurricane Florence sent waves crashing in Atlantic Beach, N.C.
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
The outer bands of Hurricane Florence sent waves crashing in Atlantic Beach, N.C.

New England is doing its share to help out with Hurricane Florence response and recovery efforts.

The Coast Guard Cutter Oak, which is usually stationed in Newport, R.I., is staging in Baltimore and will operate out of Portsmouth, Va., where its mission will be “making sure the ports are clear for traffic after the hurricane,” said Coast Guard spokesman Petty Officer Zachary Zupp.

Two other Coast Guard cutters — Juniper and Ida Lewis — will remain in Newport on standby, ready to go if necessary, Zupp said.


The Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency said on Wednesday that it deployed four emergency workers to assist with hurricane operations.

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Officials said Cathy Kiley, who works for the state Department of Environmental Protection, has been assigned to the National Response Coordination Center in Washington, D.C., where she will serve as a liaison to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the National Guard, and other federal agencies.

Two MEMA employees — Allen Phillips and David Bryant — were deployed to North Carolina’s State Emergency Operations Center to help with the national emergency management mutual aid system that facilitates state-to-state disaster assistance. They traveled to North Carolina on Sept. 9 and are expected to stay until Sept. 21, officials said.

Another MEMA employee, Maggie Fiola, was sent to work with the Virginia Department of Emergency Management to provide logistics and resource management support at the Virginia State Emergency Operations Center. Her deployment is expected to last until Sept. 23, officials said.

“In the last year, MEMA has deployed staff to Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands, and Hawaii to assist in the aftermath of natural disasters, and we continue to support this tradition of providing aid to others in need,” Secretary of Public Safety Dan Bennett said in a press release. “We thank these emergency management personnel who have offered to assist in this hurricane response effort.”


Meanwhile, 46 volunteer members of the Massachusetts Task Force 1 Urban Search and Rescue Team traveled in a convoy of approximately 14 vehicles to Virginia on Tuesday to help with operations. Tom Gatzunis, one of the volunteers, said an additional 16 members of the team have been sent to the Carolinas to help with water rescues there.

“We’re currently assigned to state of Virginia,” he said in a phone interview Thursday. “We’re just waiting.”

Emily Sweeney can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @emilysweeney.