Southern New Englanders gear up to help Irma victims

15 Airmen deployed from Quonset on Friday.

EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – As Florida and the Caribbean deal with the impact of Irma, southern New Englanders are getting ready to head down to help in the relief efforts.

The Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency is sending a contingency from Massachusetts, including an Incident Management Team to help with search and rescue efforts, as well as a National Guard Public Affairs Team.

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The American Red Cross says volunteers will be deploying over the next couple of days from Rhode Island. Among those deploying are some who were trained during several sessions held last week after volunteer sign ups spiked in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.

The Red Cross is still looking for volunteers. Organizers just ask that anyone who wants to help signs up for training in advance, just email

National Grid president Tim Horan said the company is sending 300 workers to Florida to help restore power to the millions who lost it during the storm – with 12 of those workers coming from Rhode Island, 50 from Massachusetts and the rest from New York.

Horan said Rhode Island is sending four line trucks and two supervisor trucks. A total of 100 vehicles company-wide are heading down south.

“At any one time someone’s in tough shape because of a storm with outages,” Horan said. “And we’re willing to support, as they are willing to support us. Because we know what it’s like to try and face the daunting task that they have.”

The crews are scheduled to depart 4 a.m. Tuesday.

Some people from our area are already in the disaster areas or are en route.

Fifteen airmen from the Rhode Island National Guard are already in St. Croix after deploying from Quonset on Friday.

“You’re taking the skills that you learned to defend our nation, go fight wars for our country, to help people out,” Colonel Rick Hart of the 143 Airlift Wing said. “There’s nothing more rewarding than that.”

That logistics readiness squadron is manning a staging area to facilitate aircraft going in and out of the island. As of right now they have no return date.

The Coast Guard is on its way from Newport to Florida, the Cutter Oak is leaving Rhode Island on Sunday. The ship will stop in Virginia to load up on supplies so they can help with recovery efforts.

Flights from T.F. Green Airport to Florida airports are still cancelled, including Orlando, Tampa and Fort Lauderdale.