Bay Area sends aid to the Gulf

September 1, 2008 5:28:28 PM PDT
More than 300 personnel statewide are responding to Hurricane Gustav, some of them deploying from the Bay Area.

As of Monday morning almost one-third of California's FEMA response teams are en route to Gulf Coast. In fact, one crew left at around 10:00 a.m. from Oakland International Airport.

They have no idea what to expect what to expect once they touch down.

A Coast Guard Plane left Oakland International Airport on Monday morning loading with 44 FEMA workers, full-time and retired and with a variety of expertise.

"We'll be there to help with any rescues that will be needed, any restoration of infrastructure, repairing any damage, and those types of things," said Bob Fenton from the FEMA Management Team.

The FEMA crew is being flown by the Coast Guard to Jackson Mississippi. Their final destination is Baton Rouge.

"The weather for pretty much the southern part of Louisiana is not worth the risk. Jackson was like it's still going to be a bumpy ride there but it's doable," said Lt. Cmd. Steve Dobman from the U.S. Coast Guard.

Also dealing with some turbulence skies are the Air National Guardsmen leaving from Moffett Field. A combat shadow tanker is part of a fleet carrying 60 people as well as rescue equipment to the Gulf staging to swoop in once that storm subsides.

Some Coast Guard members don't know if they will be called to help when they arrive with the FEMA crew, or if they will be sent back to the Bay Area.

"We are always kind of in the hook for search and rescue at any given minute, so we are used to the last minute call and not knowing what to expect when we get there," said Lt. Cmd. Dobman.

But FEMA said the Gulf can expect a strong response from Gustav because of lessons learned.

"We've done a lot to prepare for this event over the last couple of years, since Katrina. I think we are well situated, well prepared and ready to do a good job," said Fenton.

That FEMA team is going to be gone for at least 30 days, but there are still a lot of unknowns.


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