SANDWICH, Mass. (WBZ NewsRadio) — A Cape Cod-based Coast Guard helicopter crew is helping out in southwest Florida in the wake of a devastating punch from Hurricane Ian.
Coast Guard Lieutenant Commander Daniel Reilly told WBZ NewsRadio the team was dispatched from Air Station Cape Cod to Florida on Tuesday, as the storm bore down on the state's Gulf Coast.
The four-person helicopter crew (two pilots, one flight mechanic, and one rescue swimmer) is flying search and rescue missions in southwest Florida, evacuating people stuck in their homes and bringing them to central locations like shelters.
"We'll land, if possible, in the neighborhood, or if there's a field or football stadium or soccer field, and then our rescue swimmers will go out and start rendering aid," Reilly said. The crew is now operating out of West Palm Beach, and Reilly has not heard back from them yet, as they're in the middle of running rescue operations.
"It's a testament to the training that our crews are constantly undergoing that they can show up...in the wake of a hurricane, meet up with folks they've never met before, jump into a helicopter, and go execute the mission," he said.
The Air Station Cape Cod crew deployment could last into next week, in which case the Lt. Commander said the crew would be switched out with another from Cape Cod.
"We will be down there as long as we need to be down there in order to render aid to the people of Florida," Reilly said.