New Jersey’s Task Force 1, Army National Guard head for Florida
LAKEHURST — New Jersey's Task Force 1 was deployed for the second time in a month to help with hurricane relief.
Eighty team members left their home base at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst on Thursday night, headed for Eglin Air Force base on Florida's western panhandle. Their convoy included three tractor trailers, two box trucks, five sprinter vans, two command vehicles, and an additional Ford F-250 towing vehicle. Six boats, a water support trailer, and a fleet service truck were also sent.
This same group was sent last October to assist with recovery efforts following Hurricane Matthew. Some of the members just returned from relief efforts in Texas, according to New Jersey Office of Emergency Management spokeswoman Laura Connolly.
"The members who are on the road again from Harvey barely had enough time to hug their families hello before having to say goodbye," Connolly said.
The Task Force is divided into three groups, with one group always remaining behind in New Jersey.
"When our state was in the midst of an emergency during Superstorm Sandy, other states responded with the help we needed and now, we will be there for our friends in Florida, as we have been for those in Texas and Louisiana still reeling from Hurricane Harvey," Gov. Chris Christie said in a statement.
The New Jersey Army National Guard's 253rd Transportation Company will leave Cape May for Florida today, with 120 members ready to assist with Irma relief efforts as well.
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Hurricane Irma battered the Turks and Caicos Islands early Friday, and Cuba evacuated tourists from beachside resorts, as the fearsome storm that has killed at least 11 people continued a rampage through the Caribbean, with Florida in its sights.
Waves as high as 20 feet were expected in the Turks and Caicos. Communications went down as the storm slammed into the islands, and the extent of the devastation was unclear.
The New Jersey chapter of the Red Cross has 15 volunteers in Florida, with additional people ready to go if needed, according to spokeswoman Diane Concannon.
Chief Meteorologist Dan Zarrow remained at Walt Disney World, but wrote on his Facebook that tension is in the air.
"You can feel the hurricane apprehension from guests and staff/locals alike," Zarrow wrote on his Facebook page.
"We'll probably get some rain and wind next week, probably on Wednesday. That picture will become clearer once the storm makes its final landfall," Zarrow said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Contact reporter Dan Alexander at firstname.lastname@example.org.