Michigan responds to Hurricane Irma rescue and recovery efforts

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(WJRT) - (09/11/17) - 45 members of the Michigan Task Force 1 Urban Search and Rescue team have begun their 11-day deployment in Florida.

The team consists of firefighters, K9 handlers and medical experts.

The 18-vehicle convoy left from Holly, Michigan, Sunday and will meet in Jacksonville before receiving their assignments across the state.

"This is a cooperation of many different sections that are trained together to cooperate and find those people, go inside, risk their lives and rescue them," one team member said.

The team will be working directly with Florida residents. They're equipped with batteries, generators, boats, food, water and satellite communication tools.

While their focus is rescues, the Michigan National Guard will be helping with recovery efforts.

About 60 soldiers trained in aviation maintenance left for Florida from Grand Ledge Monday. Lt. Governor Brian Calley saw them off.

The Guardsmen will be organizing points of distribution for donations that come in, assisting first responders and most importantly, working on helicopters, a key part of relief efforts.

"You think about the people that fly helicopters, but there's a tremendous amount of maintenance and prepare work that is required and there aren't too many people that know how to do that sort of thing," Lt. Governor Calley said. "We've got that in the Michigan National Guard and that's how we're able to contribute in this case."

Major General Gregory Vadnais added, "People have faith, trust and confidence in the United State Military; and, when they see that uniform, they see that soldier or that airman or that marine, they know that somebody's there to help 'em."

In all, 1,000 members of Michigan's National Guard are expected to be deployed to Florida over the next week.

400 leave from the Upper Peninsula on Tuesday, 600 will leave from the Lansing-area on Sunday.

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