Governor Andrew Cuomo said Friday evening he would have help on standby for Hurricane Dorian headed toward Florida. Cuomo said he would continue to watch over the hurricane as it increases in strength.
"We are deploying an Incident Management Team of 26 personnel to Florida, 25 of whom are state employees from a number of agencies," Cuomo said. "The team will depart to Tallahassee on Sunday morning and will be further deployed as needed. State Police remain on standby with equipment and supplies secured and ready to be packed into trucks if they are requested."
The governor went on to wish safety for residents in Florida and reiterated help would be close by.
Earlier on Friday, local American Red Cross volunteers said they were headed to Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina to help prepare for Hurricane Dorian. Emergency response vehicles and more than 30 tractor-trailer loads full of relief supplies would be heading south.
The storm is expected to intensify as it tracks to the Northwest over the Bahamas, and could whip Florida's east coast cities with winds upwards of 130 miles per hour, on top of a life-threatening storm surge. Nineteen million people live in areas that could be impacted.
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As many as 50,000 people in the three states may need emergency shelter.
Veteran Julia Richards says she's never leaves the house unprepared. She's one of 10 volunteers flying out of Albany International Airport. So is retired firefighter Don Lamanna. So is Jose Santiago.
"[We] make sure that people have a place to sleep, something to eat, and make sure they feel comfortable," Santiago said.
Clare and Ronald Smith, married 40 years, have been volunteering with the Red Cross since 2017.
"About 12 years ago, I was very sick, and my son was a Marine at the time, and the Red Cross was able to contact his base and get him emergency leave, and he was able to come up and visit with me," Clare said.
Clare and Ronald are leaving from Stewart Airport for Atlanta. Over the next two weeks, the couple will be assisting with evacuation shelters, but they're prepared to move around where their help is most needed, depending on how bad the storm gets.
"You know, my heart goes out to these people," Ronald said. "I would hate to be in their situation, so anything I can do or my wife can do, we are happy to do."
This is not the couple's first deployment with the Red Cross, and it won't be their last. They say the more opportunity to give back, the better.