A Palm Beach Fire-Rescue team returns Sunday after spending a week in Florida’s Panhandle helping residents recover following the devastating Hurricane Michael.
The crew, consisting of Lt. Anthony Curtis, Driver/Engineer William Layman, Driver/Engineer Stephen Montoya, and Firefighter Austin Bradshaw, arrived in Marianna, Florida on October 15, five days after the storm made landfall. Residents in Marianna, about 70 miles north of Mexico Beach, had not seen any rescuers until the Palm Beach crew arrived, accompanied by a search and rescue team from New Jersey.
The Town of Palm Beach decided to send its Engine 97 crew after a request for personnel from the State of Florida’s Storm Emergency Response Coordinator for Palm Beach County. Their mission was to survey damage and search for victims.
“Many buildings had missing roofs or their concrete/brick walls were collapsed from fallen trees, and this damage was one hour inland from the eyewall’s landfall,” the crew reported.
The crew also aided recovery efforts in Dalkeith, Florida, about 27 miles northeast of Mexico City Beach. Firefighters handled emergency calls in the area as power crews worked to restore electricity. They also helped deliver emergency supplies, as many families still lack food, clean water and electricity.
“I have spoken many times about the extraordinary generosity of our residents and of our employees,” said Mayor Gail Coniglio. “Hurricane Michael devastated the homes and lives of our Florida neighbors. The Town of Palm Beach was honored to answer the call to help ease the burdens of our Panhandle friends and get them back on their feet and on the road to recovery.”
Town partners with Palm Beach United Way to deliver supplies
Firefighters described scenes of major structural damage to homes, especially roof damage, and said emergency responders are most in need of tarps. This week, the Town of Palm Beach United Way used nearly $10,000 from donor designated relief funds and Emergency Response Reserves to send more than 8 dozen large tarps to the Panhandle. Anyone interested in making a donation to assist with the relief effort, please contact the United Way at 561-655-1919.