BUFFALO, N.Y. - Western New York is helping with hurricane relief efforts in more ways than one.
Those Western New Yorkers who will be part of this storm relief team will be involved with three particular missions in mind. Number one: bring the power back on. Number two: handle some rescue work. And number three: restoration of damaged homes and property.
They're rigged and ready to roll at National Grid, with the utility sending down trucks and up to 300 line repair workers. That includes 20 specifically from Western New York, who will go to to Florida to help restore power for those millions of people who lost it with Irma. National Grid spokesman Steve Brady "We're sending crews that could do eveything from big transmissions lines, to hooking up individual homes."
Some of those utility crews may assist Duke Energy in Georgia and the Carolinas, but primarily they'll be heading to help Tampa Electric, which according to their website has over 300,000 without power in their specific coverage around that hard hit Florida city. And they'll be returning a big favor from over a decade ago because those Florida crews were here for an historic WNY weather event.
Brady says, "Somewhat ironically, Tampa Electric was up here for the 2006 October Surrpise storm; had crews from 13 states and 2 provinces here."
While those trucks are driving down, 55 members of the New York Army National Guard's 142nd Aviation unit are flying down with ten Blackhawk helicopters like these. Three of the choppers are from the Rochester base and will be used to help with search and rescue rescue missions, supply work, and transportation.
And other Western New Yorkers could be eventually heading down to Florida to help with any home restoration especially if those homes are damaged by winds or flooding. Working through churches like the Wesleyan Church in Hamburg and the Chapel at Crosspointe, the Eight Days of Hope charity helps people recover in disaster areas. It was founded following Katrina by native Western Yorker Steve Tybor the Third who is visiting here. He told 2 on Your Side that volunteers are pitching in in Texas and could move to Florida. "The volunteers use the equipment and tools we give them. You're talking about gutting a house that flooded. So you have to get everything that's wet inside the house outside the house."
Some of these volunteers could be involved for weeks. Again some are already in Texas and now more heading for Florida.