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Maryland

Maryland sends task force to assist with Hurricane Fiona recovery in Puerto Rico

Montgomery County Fire & Rescue readies supplies for victims of Hurricane Fiona in Puerto Rico.

A Maryland task force made up of firefighters and civilians is set to leave Monday to assist with the aftermath of Hurricane Fiona in Puerto Rico.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency requested the assistance of Maryland Task Force 1 on Saturday, but the departure of the 35 personnel was delayed twice over the weekend by problems finding a plane and weather on the island.

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The team is set to fly out Monday morning in a chartered plane from BWI Marshall Airport, according to Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service Assistant Chief Daniel Ogren. Montgomery County’s fire service sent 15 people, who were joined by personnel from other Maryland county fire departments and doctors, engineers and civilians. Experts in search and rescue, logistics, and hazardous materials also make up the task force.

A typical mission lasts 10 days, Ogren said, and the task force members could be involved in assessing wrecked buildings along with search and rescue tasks, dealing with flooding and fast-moving water conditions or distributing food and water. Existing damage to Puerto Rico’s infrastructure from previous storms is a major concern for rescue efforts.

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Montgomery County initially staffed the majority of the state’s task force, but recently it has expanded to other jurisdictions. Each month, counties make up a roster of available staff just in case the federal government requests help. Maryland was next up in the eastern region’s rotation. “It’s not that we necessarily have any more expertise than anyone has,” Ogren said. “I would like to say we’re the best task force in the region.”


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