NH Fire Crews Head to Florida Before Irma

As Floridians flee their hometowns for safer ground, a group of Granite Staters is preparing to head into Irma's path of destruction.

It's a team of first responders specifically trained to assist in natural disasters.

For more than 30 years, Hampton Falls Fire Chief Jay Lord has responded to emergencies.

"You just kind of get into the mindset, 'What am I going to do to make someone's day better,'" Lord said on Friday.

And for nearly two decades, he's helped put out wildfires across the country, but Lord has never been in the path of a Cat. 4 hurricane.

He says he's eager to respond to Irma.

"You can train, and train, and train, but until you go see it for yourself, all bets are off," Lord said.

He's part of the 30-member multidisciplinary Seacoast Region Incident Management Team specially trained to manage emergency natural disasters.

Exeter's assistant fire chief, Eric Wilking, has his bags packed and knows what to expect when Irma strikes.

"We had crews in Katrina for two weeks," Wilking said. "People's lives, just piles of debris in front of their home, and you know it's all they have."

The team will work hand in hand with locals, managing recovery efforts. Both say they're looking forward to helping Floridians pick up the pieces Irma is bound to leave behind.

"Hopefully, at the end of two weeks, I've made a difference in somebody's life," Lord said.

"You come back feeling, after two weeks of being reinvigorated, really why we are doing this," Wilking said.

About 10 members of the Seacoast team will likely be heading to Florida next week. They're not sure exactly when or where, but will get those details as Irma makes landfall this weekend.

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