PHOENIX — While countless people try to escape the devastation of Hurricane Ian in Florida, some Arizonans are preparing to head right to the chaos.
Patrick Simmons is one of them. His bags are packed. “I’ve got a week’s worth of supplies in a bag ready to go,” Simmons said.
The Cave Creek man has been a volunteer with the American Red Cross for six years and has gone on 20 deployments so far to help those who have lost everything.
Watching the videos posted on social media of what's going on in Florida, he believes it will be the harshest conditions he's experienced so far.
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“Probably of the ones I’ve been deployed to, this looks like maybe the worst one,” Simmons said.
Typical deployments for volunteers is two weeks, Simmons said. He is already anticipating there to be no electricity or running water when he gets there. However, he wants to do whatever he can to help. “The Red Cross exists for that purpose only," Simmons said. "To serve the people.”
Simmons is currently on standby, just waiting for his phone to ring. Once it does, he goes.
That's what happened to Pam Gieringer of Paradise Valley.
“They called me Saturday night and said can you go tomorrow?”
Gieringer said over the phone. She is currently in Jacksonville, Florida helping set up beds and other supplies for those who have been evacuated.
“The biggest concern here is more the water surge and the flooding,” she said,
The Phoenix Fire Department announced on Wednesday Arizona Task Force 1 is also on standby.
Captain Todd Keller with the department said the 150 specialized firefighters have loaded up two semi-trucks with equipment. They are also taking six boats for water rescues if needed. Once the call is received, Keller said they are prepared to leave within an hour.
“All of our members are well aware, so they are securing vehicles and getting all that equipment ready,” Keller said.
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