SMITHFIELD, Va. (WAVY) – As Hurricane Dorian moves closer to Florida, a group of veterans from Hampton Roads is preparing to deploy with help.
We Are The Emergency Response Team Inc. (W.A.T.E.R.) is a newly formed non profit. The group is made up entirely of veterans from the Coast Guard, Navy and Army.
Their mission is search and rescue and they are prepared to make Florida their first deployment, if needed.
“For 10 years, a bunch of us veterans have been trying to figure out how we can go back to servicing our country and our citizens, and last year hurricane Florence came when we lost 43 of our neighbors, our mission became very clear,” W.A.T.E.R President and Founder, Joe Slabinski told WAVY News.
Slabinski himself has been on rescue missions. Two months ago he was in New Orleans so he knows what needs to be done.
“For the last three days, I haven’t slept because we are getting geared up for this and it took me right back to my Coast Guard days when I was getting ready to deploy to Iraq.”
Only this time he has to find a way to pay for the mission. Every piece of equipment from life jackets to rope is likely going to be trashed and never used again.
That, he said, includes the boat $5,500 itself. “Because you end up ripping the bottom off of it. We’re coming down that road with six inches of water on it. That aluminum hull will be ripped apart.”
Their goal is to rescue folks in Florida. “I do have family in Florida so if there’s need for people to come down, I’d like to be one of those persons who comes down to help out,” said team member, Frederick Farmer.
After Florida, they intend to continue rescuing people from the Mississippi River to the East Coast. They currently have five big donors: Colony Insurance Agency, Indigimar Communications, PB& J Marcom, Troy Marine and Tom Long State Farm Agency.
However, without continued community donations and company sponsorship, they’ll be sunk. If you’re interested in supporting their mission visit the WATER Team Inc. website.