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Massachusetts sends support to Floridians battered by Irma

Staff of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center at Logan airport before flying to Florida to provide medical support for evacuees. PHOTO COURTESY BETH ISRAEL DEACONESS CENTER

In the wake of Hurricane Irma, various organizations in Massachusetts have sent emergency teams to aid Floridians struggling in the storm’s aftermath.

Eversource, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, and the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency have been among the many groups sending supplies and manpower to help restore the lives of citizens affected by the storm.

Chris Besse, a MEMA spokesperson, said they had been monitoring requests for assistance put up by Florida emergency systems.

“When a state is impacted by a disaster they can go out and request assistance from other states,” Besse said. “We’ve been monitoring … and as Florida goes and puts in requests for assistance we then look and see which ones we can fulfill.”

Besse said there have been four teams, comprised of emergency responders, National Guard members and an incident management team, accepted to be sent down to Florida as of Monday. When Boston had severe winter storms in 2015, other states helped out, Besse said this is Massachusetts just returning the favor.

“It’s just sort of a natural system that emergency managers and public safety help out in times of disaster,” Besse said.

Chloe Meck, a spokesperson at Beth Israel, wrote in an email that a team from Beth Israel, led by the hospital’s director of emergency management Meg Femino and consisting of eight nurses from across the state, was also sent out Tuesday morning and is set to stay in Florida for two weeks.

The team was requested by MEMA and will serve as medical support within the shelters, Meck said.

Rhiannon D’Angelo, a spokesperson for Eversource, the largest energy provider in New England, said they sent 100 employees from New England to Florida to restore power. Eversource works with other energy companies around the country to help restore power to locations that have suffered from devastating storms and other major events.

D’Angelo said they had been planning relief efforts since before the storm made landfall.

“Once we saw that New England … was going to be spared we decided that we could send a number of crews to help,” D’Angelo said. “Many energy companies in the path of Hurricane Irma reached out to the sister utilities from across the nation asking for extra workers and resources.”

Eversource has also utilized their call center in Westwood, Massachusetts to assist Tampa Electric remotely.

“They’re helping to answer outage phone calls,” D’Angelo said. “They started doing that [Sunday] morning. [Sunday] alone they answered 1,000 Tampa electric company calls.”

Several Boston residents said they support Massachusetts-based organization’s efforts to aid those impacted by Irma, as long as the work is properly organized.

Quiana Scott-Ferguson, 34, of Dorchester said she thinks it’s excellent people are volunteering time and resources to this disaster, but that they should increase training.

“I do think that there needs to be more disaster relief training for volunteers and hopefully some of these agencies will consider the number of disasters we’ve had recently and how they can better equip volunteers to help people,” Scott-Ferguson said.

Scott-Ferguson said she is also worried about donated goods ending up in the hands of unidentifiable organizations.

“I just hope that [residents] donate to the appropriate agencies like the Red Cross because there’s going to be a lot of fraudulent activity going on just like there was with Katrina,” Scott-Ferguson said.

Susan Pope, 68, of Brighton said she supports efforts to aid Floridians but that the work must be coordinated.

“I think they could use some help but it has to be organized and has to be good help or it’s just a waste,” Pope said.

Yigu Chen, 26, of Allston said he encourages donating as it will help repair the lives of those affected.

“I feel really sorry about the tragedy that occurred,” Chen said. “We haven’t had a similar event this big before. I think we can help by donating and supporting by any means necessary so that it will hopefully make life better for those that were affected.”

Jordan Kimmel contributed to the reporting of this article.



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