Members of an urban search-and-rescue team from New Jersey, dispatched to help evacuate the people of North Carolina amid Tropical Storm Florence, aided in the rescue of more than 100 people and 20 animals Friday, according to the state Office of Emergency Management.
New Jersey Task Force One also aided in one medical rescue and conducted structural damage assessments.
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Florence, which was downgraded from a hurricane Friday afternoon, has officially killed 12 people, as of 8 p.m. Saturday, including a mother and infant who were struck by debris falling on their house.
According to NJOEM spokeswoman Laura Connolly, more than 80 specially trained search-and-rescue personnel are currently in North Carolina.
Another member of the task force has been sent to the South Carolina Fire Academy to join the National Urban Search and Rescue Incident Support Team organized by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
“These people are all volunteers,” Connolly said. “They’re doctors, they’re firefighters, they’re EMTs. They’re from all different backgrounds, but they all want to help.”
NJOEM has three search-and-rescue teams composed of more than 200 people from all counties, according to Connolly. Two teams are dedicated to covering out-of-state operations, and one is focused on emergencies within the state.
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Task Force One was deployed Tuesday, the 17th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks. Many of its members worked together at ground zero, Connolly said.
“It takes a special sort of person to jump into these disasters,” she said. “Around here, there’s always a sense of sadness when these things happen. But there’s hope, too, because there are people willing to do anything to help.”