SALEM, Ore. - Due to the extensive destruction caused by Hurricane Michael, the Florida Division of Emergency Management has requested additional Incident Management Teams. The Oregon Department of Forestry said Thursday it is filling this request, working with Oregon’s Office of Emergency Management, and sending a third team to assist with relief and recovery efforts.
As with recent deployments, this request was coordinated through the Emergency Management Assistance Compact. The EMAC provides mutual assistance among states and territories during any governor-declared state of emergency through a responsive system. This structure allows states to send personnel, equipment, and supplies to assist with response and relief efforts in other states.
This ODF Team, led by Incident Commander Link Smith, arrived in Tallahassee, Fla. late Tuesday, where they received an in-briefing from the Florida National Guard at the Tallahassee Base Camp.
Their current mission is to assist with oversight of the Base Camp, located in Marianna, Fla., in the heart of the destruction zone. Their assignment includes ensuring the safety and welfare of Base Camp and coordination of communication efforts.
"All ODF Team members are in good health and spirits, and look forward to helping improve the situation," the agency said.
ODF Agency Representative Dennis Lee mobilized with the team to oversee coordination of both of the ODF teams currently deployed in Florida.
“The magnitude of destruction here is difficult to convey for those back at home,” Lee said. “Along with the devastation of so many homes and buildings, the sheer volume of what I would refer to as near-deforestation is somewhat unreal. Despite all of this, life goes on for everyone here and the resiliency of the local residents is truly inspiring. We are honored to be here to do our part in helping our Florida friends put the pieces back together.”
While ODF utilizes the EMAC most often during fire season, agency Incident Management Teams maintain All-Hazard qualifications to ensure capacity for potential disaster relief needs. ODF’s complete and coordinated fire suppression system relies on strong partnerships with other agencies, states and even countries, offering reciprocal assistance in times of need.