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Division of Forestry Members Enroute to Help Katrina Victims

By: Adam Vasallo
By: Adam Vasallo

Their trucks are packed and their trailers are full.

Nicole Simotes, a team reserve unit leader, says, "I really don't know what to expect. We had the storms in Florida. We were on all four of them last year. I don't think this one really can compare."

The incident team, made up of specialists from several statewide agencies, were briefed Tuesday afternoon before deploying to the Mississippi coast.

The team will perform search and rescue operations and help with distributing goods such as food and water to storm victims.

Simotes adds, "I don't know how we're going to get things to them, but we'll figure it out."

Team members are trained to provide help for a variety of disasters from flooding to fires, and of course, hurricanes, and they say their objective when responding is always the same.

Gene Madden, a team information officer, says, "Unfortunately it's what we've done every time one of these terrible storms goes through. We'll be primarily supporting the logistical side of search and rescue efforts at ground zero along the Mississippi coast."

Their orders handed down, forestry officials say the team will be deployed to the area for two weeks. The 36-member incident team is a sign that help is on the way to an area in desperate need.

The forestry division has four incident teams.

Tuesday’s deployment was the third team deployed to aid in Hurricane Katrina relief. The first two teams were deployed to south Florida last week.


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