OKCFD, ARC crews leave Oklahoma for path of Hurricane Florence

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OKLAHOMA CITY – A new team from the Oklahoma City Fire Department as well as local members of the American Red Cross are heading to the areas expected to be hit by Hurricane Florence.

The groups are hoping for the best.

“You hope that the storm goes away, and their possessions are fine and no lives are lost,” said the Oklahoma City Fire Department’s Lt. Josh Pearcy.

Pearcy said, though they’re hopeful, they are preparing for the worst.

“But, the reality is we’re here to do a job if it’s needed and we’re here to help,” he said.

Pearcy’s one of the many Oklahomans heading toward a potential disaster zone.

“We’ll hunker down,” he said.

Pearcy is part of the new Oklahoma Task Force 1 – Helicopter Search and Rescue team. This is their first out-of-state mission as a team – but not as individuals.

“I’ve been on many boat teams, and we’ve made rescues and tornadoes here in Oklahoma,” Pearcy said. “Last year – Harvey – went to Houston for two weeks down there. The work’s not new. It’s just new being in North Carolina.”

The team is made up of three swimmers and one manager.

A similar group is also heading that way from Tulsa. They’ll rescue those in danger from the water and in the air.

“The state is sending out a UH-60 Black Hawk from Lexington and a UH-72 Lakota from Tulsa,” Pearcy said.

But, they’re not the only ones heading out on their mission.

The American Red Cross is sending 19 volunteers from Oklahoma to Richmond, VA. From there, they’ll go wherever help is needed

“Of course, for myself, the adrenaline is flowing. I’m ready to get out there and help.”

Anticipation is building for Danny Rader as he gets his relief supplies ready for the long trip to Virginia. For him, like Pearcy, heading into danger is nothing new.

“I was in the eye of Hurricane Harvey in Houston last year, and that was quite an experience. I was also in Puerto Rico in Hurricane Maria, which was a devastating storm,” Rader said.

The American Red Cross said they’re preparing to help up to 100,000 people. They plan to provide evacuation shelters and relief during what’s looking like a time it could really be needed.

“I think we can handle the job,” said Jackie Meeks with The American Red Cross.

Both groups are expected to get to their destinations by Thursday.

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