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Local teams head to Florida to help during IRMA and aftermath

PIERCE COUNTY, Wash. -- The state of Florida is receiving assistance and help from volunteers all across the country, including from Western Washington.

A team of volunteer firefighters, police officers and EMT’s from Pierce and King counties arrived in Georgia and will help however they can saving lives and preserving property as Irma hits Florida. Some of these volunteers also just returned from helping out in the aftermath of hurricane Harvey in Texas.

Packing bags and loading trucks, Washington Task Force 1, in Pierce County is part of FEMA’s 28 federal search and rescue teams stationed around the United States.

"We received activation orders from FEMA,” said Scott Heinz, deputy director of Pierce County Emergency Management.

The volunteer’s experience ranges from deployments to New York after 9/11, hurricane Katrina and the Oso landslide. They landed in George today with their supply cache and water rescue module on route there just behind them. The task force also has five search and rescue dog teams.

"This is going to be very wide scale, we're going to have a small piece of the pie,” said Ryan Nash, a firefighter with the Seattle Fire Department who is on the task force.

This team is comprised of 80 volunteers, many of whom just returned to Washington after helping people during hurricane Harvey in Texas. They turned right around for a back-to-back deployment onto round two in Florida.

"While this is unusual for us, [to have back-to-back deployments] it’s well within our comfort zone, and these people that are getting ready to go into harm's way are true heroes. So the fact that we’ve got 20 people coming back Harvey and 10 of them are willing to redeploy before they even get home, hug their loved ones and rest before going right out again shows you the commitment of this team to go into harms way to go help people,’ said Heinz.

The Snohomish County PUD will also be sending a relief team of 19 members Sunday morning to Georgia to assist with restoring electricity.

Bloodworks Northwest said they saw a surge in blood donations from people in the Pacific Northwest following hurricane Harvey, they say if people want to help but don’t know how, donating blood is one of the easiest ways to help someone.

Donating blood can be done at donor center locations across western Washington.