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Pa. first responders helping with Hurricane Ian recovery efforts

First responders from across the Commonwealth are assisting in both Florida and South Carolina.

PENNSYLVANIA, USA — Less than 24 hours after Hurricane Ian made landfall in Florida, John Gardell and his team with the International Association of Firefighters (IAFF) were on the road to the battered Sunshine State.

"[We’re doing] whatever we can do to try to secure a member's home, a firefighters home so that he can stay on duty and basically help the other people in need." Gardell said.

The IAFF Disaster Relief team, including several firefighters from Pennsylvania, are assisting other first responders.

"They must be there, you know, in some cases, four to five days straight," Gardell said. "We send a crew of firefighters from around the country down and actually try to handle their personal homes, families, whatever we can do to kind of put them at ease."

From tarping roofs to hauling out damaged items…

“These days are running us from seven in the morning,” Gardell said. “So you're looking at 12-hour days.”

The hurricane left several dozen people dead, and the rebuild is estimated to cost upwards of $60 million.

Gardell helped in the response to Hurricane Florence, another category 4 storm, in 2018. Despite the experience, Ian’s footprint was still shocking.

“Seeing it firsthand, I don't want to call it breathtaking. That's the wrong term,” Gardell said. “But it’s… it’ll definitely push you back a little bit.”

Gardell says the team will stay in Florida for about another week and that donations help as much as having boots on the ground. People can donate to the IAFF Disaster Relief efforts here.

IAFF Disaster Team members are not the only Pennsylvanians helping with hurricane relief. 

Pennsylvania Task Force 1, which featured eight Harrisburg firemen, left for Charleston, South Carolina in anticipation of what became Hurricane Ian's second landfall. 

In a press release from the city, Fire Chief Brian Enterline said "Every one of our guys on that team is prepared, and it goes to show the Harrisburg Bureau of Fire is committed to serving anybody."

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