Wake County emergency officials have dispatched a small fleet of fire engines and firefighters to Bladen County where they will help with flood relief efforts and 911 responses in a region beset by Hurricane Matthew.
Fire and emergency management officials are volunteering in the region at the request of state authorities. The Wake County emergency responders will remain in Bladen County through the weekend.
Eric Curry, a Wake County spokesman, said the group of volunteers traveling to the region have all been trained to assist in flood relief.
“Now that Wake County is in the clear, the state asked if we had anyone who could go to affected areas,” Curry said. “They will be doing the same stuff that they were doing here. They have been so tied up in Bladen County, our people will be able to fill in the gap.”
The deadly hurricane dropped torrential rains that unleashed historic flooding that has devastated Eastern North Carolina. As of Thursday afternoon, state officials have reported 22 deaths, mostly by drowning, including two people in Bladen County who died when their car was engulfed in rising water.
The county is one of 31 in the eastern part of the state that is eligible for federal assistance in response to the storm damage.
In addition to emergency workers from the Eastern Wake Fire-Rescue, officials sent four fire engine companies, along with firefighters from Wake Forest, Knightdale, Apex, Fairview, Bay Leaf and Stony Hill fire departments.
Darrell Alford, deputy director of Wake County’s fire services, said the county sent 18 volunteers to Bladen County. Alford said the volunteer emergency responders expect to have a range of responsibilities, from checking on residents’ well-being to harnessing fuel tanks that have floated away from people’s homes. He said a big part of the group’s assistance will be relieving “tired, overwhelmed” emergency workers who live in the area.
“It will give them an opportunity to catch their breath,” Alford said, “and check on their own homes.”