Bay Area agencies send Florence relief crews to Carolinas

Crews across the Bay Area geared up Tuesday to help those in the path of Hurricane Florence, returning the favor for all the help the area received last year.

Red Cross volunteers will leave for the Carolinas and Virginia Wednesday to help with relief efforts. Other agencies already have teams on the road.

The Salvation Army of Tampa sent 11 crews of at least 40 people, with cleaning kits, stacks of water and food.

"All these racks were full just before the storm, so we've loaded up trailers and sent them out," said Jerry Stickney, the state logistician of the Salvation Army in Tampa.

Stickney said it's their turn to help just a year after volunteers from the Carolinas came down for Hurricane Irma.

"It is something that to the day, it's very eerie, and that memory is still very fresh in our minds," said Stickney.

It isn't just Red Cross and Salvation Army sending people to the Atlantic coast. Florida Power and Light Company crews are rolling out to help with outages after the storm hits.

"To be able to travel and to see something new and work with new people and restore for these people who are going to be so heavily impacted, it's a great feeling," said Wade Jollimore, the FPL operations lead.

Volunteers and staff said just being there and ready to jump in makes all the difference.

"We are all just a piece of the puzzle making sure we can get the community back on their feet," said Stickney.

Red Cross and Salvation Army sent teams early, so they know what is needed after the hurricane hits.

TECO crews, as well as Hillsborough County and Pasco County fire rescue teams, are also driving up to help wherever they can.

Hurricane Florence is expected to hit the Carolinas as a strong storm between Thursday and Friday, and then stall over the Mid-Atlantic states until Monday. High winds, storm surge and a massive amount of rain is anticipated. Power outages and flooding is also expected across the Carolinas in the days following Florence. Mandatory evacuations begin on Tuesday at noon.

Roughly 90,000 TECO customers lost power following Hurricane Irma in 2017. Power was mostly restored about a week later.