Hurricane Michael Search and Rescue Operations, Day 1

@moffittjc (45184)
Gainesville, Florida
October 11, 2018 7:57pm CST
Our disaster recovery team, Florida Urban Search and Rescue Team, Task Force 8, was activated ahead of Hurricane Michael's landfall, and staged ourselves last night just outside of the state's capital, Tallahassee. Today was day one of our seven day mission, and the team made it's way down to Wakulla to set up operations at Wakulla High School. While there, we were teamed up with the Florida National Guard and tasked with making our way toward the coast toward the small town of Carabelle. The Guard would be working slightly ahead of us, clearing roads and performing structural inspections of roadways and bridges while our team performed search and rescue operations. The goal is to work our way through Carabelle, then to Appalachicola, and ultimately making our way to Mexico Beach, one of the hardest hit areas in the Florida panhandle. The damage is extensive, and is almost as bad as the damage from Hurricane Andrew that hit south Florida in the early 90s. Houses, buildings and structures aren't just damaged from the hurricane, they are simple gone. Not there. Flattened to nothing. Thankfully, most people along the coast evacuated, or else the death toll would have been much, much higher. Looking at the carnage created by this storm, I can't imagine anybody trying to stick around and ride out the storm. The team is going to be quite busy over the next week, and we will be working long days. There's no power here, so the only power we have is the portable power we brought with us. Due to recovery operations, and lack of electricity, my time may be extremely limited here, but I will try to pop in when I can and give updates. Please keep everyone in your thoughts and prayers. There are a lot of families out there that still don't know that they have no homes or communities to go back to. Literally everything has been destroyed. This hurricane was a bad one.
20 people like this
22 responses
@andriaperry (58351)
• United States
12 Oct
You are a good man. I went down to help people when Katrina hit, its not an easy life. Take care.
3 people like this
@moffittjc (45184)
• Gainesville, Florida
12 Oct
Did you get affected at all by this hurricane where you live?
12 Oct
your a brave soul i know i couldnt do it.
1 person likes this
@andriaperry (58351)
• United States
13 Oct
@moffittjc That is a bad job, I probably couldn`t handle that.
1 person likes this
@DianneN (84978)
• United States
12 Oct
I've been watching the disaster on CNN and the news. I am so proud that you are part of the operation and know you are badly needed. Bless you, Jeff and be careful!!!
3 people like this
@moffittjc (45184)
• Gainesville, Florida
12 Oct
Thank you Dianne. I promise I'll be careful.
1 person likes this
@DianneN (84978)
• United States
12 Oct
2 people like this
12 Oct
yes be careful out there and watch out for any online scams around this time.
2 people like this
@NJChicaa (46019)
• United States
12 Oct
You are amazing. I understand the destruction as we had the same around here 6 years ago from Sandy.
3 people like this
@moffittjc (45184)
• Gainesville, Florida
12 Oct
Thank you. This is a very humbling experience for all of us. Makes us thankful for our families, friends, and loved ones, and makes us appreciate life so much more. It's very traumatic doing the work we do, because we have to meticulously go from street to street and house to house checking for survivors. It is painstakingly slow.
2 people like this
@NJChicaa (46019)
• United States
12 Oct
@moffittjc I can't even imagine. You are an angel an a hero combined into one person!
2 people like this
@moffittjc (45184)
• Gainesville, Florida
12 Oct
@NJChicaa Thank you! Comments like that help my teammates and I keep our spirits up as we deal with a horribly bad situation.
1 person likes this
@JudyEv (134362)
• Bunbury, Australia
12 Oct
This is wonderful work that you and your team are doing. Stay safe and I'm sure we're all praying for those affected and especially the poor souls who have lost everything.
2 people like this
@moffittjc (45184)
• Gainesville, Florida
12 Oct
Thanks Judy. Seeing the damage firsthand is really deflating and emotionally tough, but thankfully we are trained for this, and have experienced it before with several other hurricanes (thought this is by far the worst of what our team has dealt with).
2 people like this
@JudyEv (134362)
• Bunbury, Australia
12 Oct
@moffittjc I can imagine the work is draining emotionally as you say. So much heartache for so many.
1 person likes this
12 Oct
@moffittjc it is scary that all these hurricanes are always hitting all the time. wat is going on?
2 people like this
@wolfgirl569 (9955)
• Marion, Ohio
12 Oct
Be careful out there. We have seen the pictures on the news. I am sure it is lots worse first hand.
2 people like this
@moffittjc (45184)
• Gainesville, Florida
12 Oct
The pictures and news footage can't do justice to what it really looks like on the ground. Rescuers are having a tough time getting in to Panama City Beach and Mexico Beach because the roads are gone, and almost all of the bridges are structurally damaged. The National Guard unit that we are attached to (a transportation battalion) has one responsibility--clear the roads and make the bridges safe for us to cross. It's slow going, but we are making some headway.
2 people like this
12 Oct
i have seen it on the news too and it looks really bad.
1 person likes this
@moffittjc (45184)
• Gainesville, Florida
13 Oct
@playertwo It's as bad as the news shows it to be.
@DWDavis (14048)
• Pikeville, North Carolina
12 Oct
My thoughts and prayers are with the victims and with you all who are doing the rescue and recovery work. Stay safe and God Speed my friend.
2 people like this
@moffittjc (45184)
• Gainesville, Florida
12 Oct
Thanks DW! You stay safe as well. Michael paid you guys a visit as well. Sorry to hear you're getting more rain in the very part of the country which can't afford more rain. Hope the flooding isn't too bad for you.
1 person likes this
@DWDavis (14048)
• Pikeville, North Carolina
12 Oct
@moffittjc Here in the east, we got some wind and little rain. Out toward the Triangle and High Point, they got a lot of rain and some flooding. The problem between now and Monday will be river flooding as all that water moves downstream in already swollen rivers.
2 people like this
@moffittjc (45184)
• Gainesville, Florida
12 Oct
@DWDavis I hope the river flooding won't be too bad. I hope this is the last of the major rain events for a while for you guys, as you need some time to dry out.
2 people like this
@1creekgirl (11919)
• United States
12 Oct
That's so tragic for so many people. They're in my prayers. You guys be careful out there, I know your efforts are really appreciated and needed.
2 people like this
12 Oct
good luck out there, man.
@moffittjc (45184)
• Gainesville, Florida
13 Oct
@playertwo Thanks. I think for the many people who lived here, their luck ran out two days ago. At least I have a home to go back to when our mission is complete, but these poor people have nothing.
@LadyDuck (175633)
• Switzerland
12 Oct
I am so sorry Jeff, we have been in Panama City for a 2 weeks vacation years ago and we loved the area. I feel so bad for people who lost everything. Take care.
1 person likes this
@moffittjc (45184)
• Gainesville, Florida
13 Oct
Thanks Anna. I, too, have visited Panama City Beach many times, so it personally hits home that all of it is now gone.
1 person likes this
@LadyDuck (175633)
• Switzerland
13 Oct
@moffittjc That was a really bad storm.
1 person likes this
@moffittjc (45184)
• Gainesville, Florida
14 Oct
@LadyDuck I'm sure it will go down in history as one of the really bad storms. But I'm afraid this is going to be an annual thing now, where each year we have another storm for the record books.
1 person likes this
• Ponce De Leon, Florida
12 Oct
I'm glad youre OK.
1 person likes this
@moffittjc (45184)
• Gainesville, Florida
13 Oct
I'm glad you're okay.
• Ponce De Leon, Florida
13 Oct
@moffittjc Keep me posted, when you can. Either here or through messenger. I'm working crazy hours while we try to do whatever we can.
• Ponce De Leon, Florida
13 Oct
@moffittjc make sure you keep me posted either here, messenger or text. Worried about you out in that.
@RasmaSandra (19615)
• Daytona Beach, Florida
12 Oct
WOW I had no idea there was so much destruction. There is nothing like that here in Daytona Beach. I will keep everyone in my prayers. Best of luck to you all.
1 person likes this
@moffittjc (45184)
• Gainesville, Florida
12 Oct
It reminds me of the destruction that Homestead faced when Hurricane Andrew hit back in the early 90s. The hurricane literally flattened everything.
@RasmaSandra (19615)
• Daytona Beach, Florida
13 Oct
@moffittjc that is the scariest part.
1 person likes this
@moffittjc (45184)
• Gainesville, Florida
13 Oct
@RasmaSandra Yeah, there is literally nothing left here. Entire communities have been wiped completely off the map. I'm pretty sure a nuclear war wouldn't have caused as much damage as this hurricane.
1 person likes this
@Deepizzaguy (14941)
• Lake Charles, Louisiana
13 Oct
I have been through Hurricanes Cindy and Katrina. My thoughts are prayers are with you and your assistants on your mission of mercy.
1 person likes this
@moffittjc (45184)
• Gainesville, Florida
13 Oct
Thank you! I never quite thought of our job as a "mission of mercy," but in essence that is what it really is.
1 person likes this
@Deepizzaguy (14941)
• Lake Charles, Louisiana
13 Oct
@moffittjc Being a native of Panama, it is a term that is used a lot.
@dodo19 (33572)
• Beaconsfield, Quebec
12 Oct
It’s really awesome of you guys to do this work and help your community. I can imagine it’s not an easy situation.
1 person likes this
@dodo19 (33572)
• Beaconsfield, Quebec
13 Oct
@moffittjc I can imagine that it'll be really hard for you guys. It's a difficult situation to be in, in many ways.
@Courtlynn (55025)
• United States
13 Oct
I saw the aftermath on the news days ago and my heart quickly sunk for all those who lost their homes.
1 person likes this
@moffittjc (45184)
• Gainesville, Florida
14 Oct
Most people in the area around ground zero lost their homes. When we moved in to Port St. Joe yesterday, 75% of the building in the town were completely destroyed, and they were not even in the area considered ground zero.
@CarolDM (2031)
• United States
12 Oct
And thank you for all that you do helping these people out when they really need it. My family are all safe, no power but they are ok.
1 person likes this
@moffittjc (45184)
• Gainesville, Florida
13 Oct
I'm glad to hear that you and your family are safe. I hope many people understand that things like houses and cars can be replaced, but lives can't.
12 Oct
You are awesome, Jeff. Keep safe!
1 person likes this
@moffittjc (45184)
• Gainesville, Florida
13 Oct
Thank you. I'll try to be as safe as I can!
1 person likes this
@bluesa (15115)
• Johannesburg, South Africa
12 Oct
I was wondering about you, Jeff. I know you said Gainesville would be fine, but I wondered if you and your team would have to assist the areas that got hit. I have seen footage of Mexico Beach, they are rightly calling it "Ground Zero." It has been near wiped out. Thinking of you and thoughts and prayers going out to all. Please take care @moffittjc .
1 person likes this
@moffittjc (45184)
• Gainesville, Florida
13 Oct
Mexico Beach was originally our targeted destination, but we received orders this morning that we were being reassigned to Port St. Joe, just to the east of Mexico Beach. Apparently, it was hit almost as bad as Mexico Beach. I appreciate the thoughts and prayers. The poor people who live in and around "ground zero" need the prayers more than I do. We expect tomorrow to be a bad day as we search door to door for survivors.
1 person likes this
@sol_cee (17303)
• Saint Vincent And The Grenadines
12 Oct
Flattened to nothing- that sounds terrible. My prayers are with you Jeff-san. Stay safe.
1 person likes this
@moffittjc (45184)
• Gainesville, Florida
13 Oct
Thank you! Prayers are much appreciated. Where did your profile picture go?
@Elizaby (3952)
• Pensacola, Florida
12 Oct
Do be careful and though I know and love that area I am glad Pensacola was on the good side and only got some tropical storm force winds and and little rain. Glad the cold front came down when it did.
1 person likes this
@moffittjc (45184)
• Gainesville, Florida
12 Oct
The timing of that cold front was perfect to keep Michael from barreling straight through Pensacola. It was also timed just right to keep the hurricane from turning sooner and hitting more populate areas like Tallahassee, Gainesville and Jacksonville.
1 person likes this
@GardenGerty (102458)
• United States
12 Oct
I am glad for so many that are helping.
1 person likes this
@moffittjc (45184)
• Gainesville, Florida
12 Oct
There are so many more that want to rush in and help right away, but the problem we are facing right now is that it is very difficult to even get into the affected areas due to the destruction. Although search and rescue teams such as ours are on the ground going door to door already, most of the efforts right now are just trying to clear roads and bridges so that more aid and relief crews can get in to help.
@FourWalls (15130)
• United States
12 Oct
Thank you so very much for the work you do. The visuals from there is heartbreaking. It looks like foundations completely wiped clean. You stay safe as well!!!
1 person likes this
@moffittjc (45184)
• Gainesville, Florida
12 Oct
Thank you. We are here to serve and help our fellow neighbors. That hurricane could have just as easily wiped out our home town too, so we know how important it is to stick together and help each other out. Don't worry, we will be safe; we are well trained for missions like this. You are right about the situations being heartbreaking. There are entire neighborhoods that don't exist anymore. Simply wiped off the map.
1 person likes this