A multi-agency Hurricane Ian response team including law enforcement officers from the Ocala Police Department and Marion County Sheriff’s Office arrived in Hardee County on Friday to assist with search and rescue efforts.
The Hardee County Sheriff’s Office stated that an “extreme number of rescue calls” have been received from residents in the area due to damage and flooding that was caused by Hurricane Ian. Most roadways have been deemed unsafe to travel due to flooding and weak infrastructure.
Upon arrival on Friday, members of the response team sprang into action to help with security and conduct search and rescue missions in the area.
OPD stated on its Facebook webpage that the response team is encountering a lot of flooding, but thankfully MCSO brought several boats.
“Our hearts go out to every Florida resident who has been severely impacted by this catastrophic storm,” stated Ocala Police Chief Mike Balken.
“I could not be prouder of this dedicated group of officers for stepping up and taking time away from their families to help those in need. May they be successful in their mission and return home safely,” added Balken.
While Ocala was fortunate to experience minimal disruption from Hurricane Ian, Balken pointed out that there are thousands of neighboring Floridians who have lost everything during the storm and are in need of assistance.
Anyone wanting to help in the relief efforts can contribute a monetary donation to Florida’s official disaster fund via the Florida Disaster Fund website or by texting the word “DISASTER” to 20222.