San Diegans prepared to help with Tropical Storm Isaac

SAN DIEGO (CNS) – Urban Search and Rescue Team personnel and dogs were on standby in San Diego Tuesday, awaiting orders and preparing to deploy in response to Tropical Storm Issac.

As of 2 a.m. Pacific time, Tropical Storm Issac was on the verge of becoming a hurricane and threatening to hit Louisiana and Mississippi area tonight or early Wednesday, according to the National Hurricane Center.

On Monday, the San Diego and Imperial Counties Chapter of the American Red Cross sent five disaster workers to the Gulf Coast. Courtney Pendleton of the American Red Cross in San Diego said the five local ARC workers were sent to Florida to assist chapters in areas that might be affected by the storm.

Barry La Forgia, executive director of San Diego-based International Relief Teams, said Monday he has been on the phone with health departments in the states where landfall might occur to double check on licensing requirements for medical teams that might be deployed from San Diego.

La Forgia said a contact at the Department of Nursing in Mississippi told him that Isaac was “a small storm compared to Katrina” seven year ago and that the news media was “overblowing it.” He said he did not agree with that assessment.

“Hurricanes are unpredictable,” La Forgia said. “That thing could sit out (in the Gulf of Mexico) and strengthen to a Category 2.”

Hurricanes are rated from 1-5, with 5 being the strongest.

IRT had medical teams in Mississippi for three months following Hurricane Katrina in 2005 to provide basic medical support services, like making sure victims of chronic illnesses took their medicine, treating wounds and giving tetanus shots, he said. Nearly 40 volunteer construction teams were later sent to the area to repair or rebuild houses — the last one earlier this year.

La Forgia said he had no idea whether a response will even be needed this time.

“We're just kind of monitoring the situation right now,” La Forgia said.

Categories: KUSI