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Wilson County residents help out in Florida

Jacob Smith • Sep 11, 2017 at 6:17 PM

Three members of the Wilson County community are helping out in different ways in Florida with Hurricane Irma relief efforts.

Wilson County Emergency Management Agency deployed one ambulance with two personnel Friday to assist with relief.

J.R. Kelley, former Wilson County 911 director, also left Friday morning to help as a volunteer member of the Red Cross.

The Florida Division of Emergency Management requested assistance from the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency on Friday to help with the relief efforts due to Hurricane Irma.

The personnel who deployed to Florida from WEMA were division Chief Shannon Cooper and Lt. Adrian McNabb.

The two met other emergency teams in Murfreesboro and went to Chattanooga for an official briefing. After the briefing, the teams went to Florida where they were given their assignments.

The Wilson County team arrived in Florida and assisted in St. Petersburg, Florida during the weekend with the evacuation of a U.S. Veteran Affairs, Bay Pines medical facility.

On Monday morning, the team was deployed to Jacksonville, Florida, where they awaited tactical assignments to be handed down.

The WEMA team will be deployed up to three weeks to complete assignments that are requested by the Florida Emergency Management Agency.

This is the third WEMA deployment since EMS strike teams were formed. The first deployment was to the Gatlinburg wildfires in last November, and a team also joined Lebanon firefighters who spent a week helping Hurricane Harvey victims in the Houston area.

Kelley is one of the 500 volunteers working with the Red Cross to provide relief.

He spent the weekend in Sebastian, Florida where he helped shelter 270 people at Sebastian Middle School.

“The shelter will be closing [Monday night], so we’re going to head either down south or out west next,” said Kelley. “The power’s down in about 75 percent of the homes here, but we didn’t get hit nearly as bad as we thought we would.”

According to Kelley, the team of volunteers he is working with will probably go to Jacksonville, Florida next, where they will help with the severe flooding the city received. 

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