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Second wave of FWC officers on the way to assist with Hurricane Ian response

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) officers, with their unique training, experience and equipment, are often the first to respond following a natural disaster. Hurricane Ian was no different. Soon after Hurricane Ian came ashore in Florida, FWC officers deployed to assist people in need. Approximately 120 FWC officers from areas of Florida not impacted by Ian rushed to affected areas to provide life safety, response, search-and-rescue, humanitarian and law enforcement response services.

This first wave of officers worked closely with partner agencies and the State Emergency Operations Center on coordinated missions. Combined efforts have resulted in thousands of rescues and welfare checks, tons of supplies delivered and hundreds of trips delivering emergency equipment and supplies to areas most in need.

On Oct. 6 and 7, the first wave of FWC officers are demobilizing and will be replaced with a second wave of 61 officers from the FWC Northwest Region, FWC Northeast Region and the FWC North Central Region. Of the 61 officers deploying, 10 FWC Special Operations Group officers in conjunction with partner agencies are deploying to five barrier islands currently inaccessible to vehicles to assist with the establishment and operation of ongoing command and control complexes.

As more officers assigned to their home communities in affected counties join the storm response and recovery effort, fewer officers from outside the region are necessary to provide the same service to Floridians. Officers in affected counties have been working side by side with their deployed counterparts and area law enforcement partners to augment the unprecedented resources brought to bear following the storm.

“Our first wave of officers has made us very proud,” said FWC Chairman Rodney Barreto. “Disasters can strike at any time and our officers answer the call. The help and support they’ve provided to the people of Florida during this emergency has been incredible to witness. They’ve worked long hours, stopping only to grab a quick bite to eat and refuel their equipment before heading back out on continuous missions. It’s time for them to pass the torch to our second wave and head home for some much-needed rest.”

“This storm affected so many people across the state. While the bulk of our officers are working in Lee and Charlotte counties focusing on the devastation there, we still have officers addressing needs along the Peace and Myakka rivers due to high waters,” said FWC Law Enforcement Director Col. Roger Young. “We have a long way to go and will continue to send waves of officers to assist those in need.”