Special Operations Water Rescue Team deploys to North Carolina

BY STAFF REPORTS
09/14/2018 12:00 PM
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Main Cherokee Phoenix
Cherokee Nation Marshal Sgt. John Wofford and Deputy Marshal Austin Glory tie a buoy into a rescue boat before leaving on Sept. 13 for North Carolina to help with potential relief efforts from Hurricane Florence. COURTESY
TAHLEQUAH – The Cherokee Nation sent an eight-man special operations water rescue team, boats, ATVs and its new search and rescue truck to North Carolina on Sept. 13 to help with potential relief efforts from Hurricane Florence rainfall.

According to a CN press release the tribe also has three emergency management team members in North Carolina.

“The Cherokee Nation is not just going to sit idly by and say ‘poor them’,” Principal Chief Bill John Baker said. “The Cherokee Nation is fortunate to have the equipment, resources and trained marshals and emergency management staff capable of responding to any Type III FEMA disaster and search and rescue effort. Anytime we can help our family or any citizen, we’re going to pitch in and get there.”

The release states that the crew left Tahlequah for Cherokee, North Carolina, and although Hurricane Florence weakened to a Category II, the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians Incident Management Team in North Carolina expects widespread flooding during the weekend.

According to the release, the CN is also taking its new 1-1/2 ton search and rescue truck. The truck was purchased from a 2016 Tribal Homeland Security Grant but took one year to get specially built. The tribe recently received the truck that will be used in times of flooding, tornados and other disaster sites, the release states.

“When we go to a natural disaster scene, we have to be completely self-sufficient,” Marshal Shannon Buhl said. “We never want to go into a community and pull resources, so we bring our own water, food, medical supplies and everything we need to sustain ourselves onsite for several days.”

The CN has sent its water rescue team to Houston for Hurricane Harvey and had teams previously in Florida, Moore and Joplin, according to the release.

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