Local Southwest Florida response teams moving north to help the Big Bend

Reporter: Amy Galo Writer: Rachel Murphy
Published: Updated:

Local fire, sheriff’s and Florida Department of Transportation agencies have started making their way up to the Big Bend.

They left as early as Wednesday night, wasting no time to help our neighbors, just like they did for Southwest Florida when Hurricane Ian rolled through.

“This area is heavily wooded with very large, old-growth oak trees and largely like old-growth trees, so many of those have been uprooted, coming across powerlines, snapping power poles, falling on structures, things like that, blocking roads,” Craig Weinbaum explained. Weinbaum is the Engine Strike team leader.

Southwestern Floridians are lining up to help.

“We already have a waiting list of personnel ready to go to relieve these firefighters, paramedics that are in the area right now,” said Greater Naples Fire Chief Nolan Sapp.

“The decision was easy. These folks that we’re going to help came and assisted us when we got hit last year with Ian,” said Kevin Salsbery, who is with the FDOT district.

local response teams
FDOT Truck. (Credit: WINK News)

Crews from Greater Naples Fire, Collier County deputies, Estero Fire and local FDOT departments are all heading north to the Big Bend.

They said they will be there as long as it takes for emergency response teams to get back on their feet.

“Our primary goal is to get them back to normal, and the easiest way to do that is to let them get their lives back to normal, so they come back to work refreshed, ready to go and ready to serve their community again, and in the meantime, we’re going to be seamless, and serve their community as if we’re them,” said Weinbaum.

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