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Local first responders deployed to help Floridians impacted by Hurricane Michael

Posted at 7:41 PM, Oct 09, 2018

South Florida is being spared from the wrath of Hurricane Michael, but as the storm inches closer to the panhandle, help from our area is already on the way.

Red flags flapping in the wind Monday signaled the high rip current risk at Lake Worth Beach, and waves pounding against the pier were being fueled by Hurricane Michael. 

"I'm here all the time, almost every night and it's never like this,” said Debi Bennett, who comes to the beach every time there's a hurricane.

Bennett was joined by surfers Tuesday night, taking in the thrill and enjoying the rough surf.

As Michael gained steam circling up the Gulf Coast, Palm Beach County's All Hazards Incident Management Team was deployed.

"There's some anxiety of course, there's also some eager anticipation to be able to assist those communities in need,” said Nigel Baker, the team coordinator.

Baker helped create the team in 2014. Last year, they responded to the Florida Keys for Hurricane Irma. On Monday, the state called them to head north for Michael.

"The missions can range from just supporting the emergency operations center in Tallahassee, to assisting various counties impacted by the storm,” Baker said.

Tuesday afternoon, the team hauled cases of water and loaded up their luggage before departing from Palm Beach County Fire Rescue headquarters. The members left their families behind and headed into harms way.

"It's tough - myself I have a 2-year-old and a 3-month-old at home and my wife is going to be home baby herself,” said Jason Haythorn, the public information officer for the team. “It’s an eye-opening experience.”

There are 12 members from Florida’s Region 7, which includes Palm Beach, Broward, Miami-Dade, and Monroe County. Seven of the 12 members are from Palm Beach County Fire Rescue. They drove to Orlando Monday night and will head to Tallahassee Wednesday to get their exact assignment. They could be there for up to two weeks.