Cherokee Nation Special Operations Water Rescue Team deploys to North Carolina to help in potential Hurricane Florence flood

September 13, 2018

TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The Cherokee Nation sent an eight-man special operations water rescue team, boats, ATVs and its new search and rescue truck to North Carolina Thursday to help with potential relief efforts from Hurricane Florence rainfall. The Cherokee Nation also has three emergency management team members in North Carolina.

“The Cherokee Nation is not just going to sit idly by and say ‘poor them’,” Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker said. “The Cherokee Nation is fortunate to have the equipment, resources and trained marshals and emergency management staff capable of responding to any Type III FEMA disaster and search and rescue effort. Anytime we can help our family or any citizen, we’re going to pitch in and get there.”

The crew left Tahlequah Thursday for Cherokee, North Carolina. Although Hurricane Florence weakened to a Category II, the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians Incident Management Team in North Carolina expects widespread flooding over the weekend.

The Cherokee Nation is also taking its new one and a half ton turbo-charged search and rescue truck. The truck was purchased from a 2016 Tribal Homeland Security Grant but took one year to get specially built. The tribe just recently received the truck that will be used for rescue of citizens in flooding, tornados and other disaster sites.

“When we go to a natural disaster scene, we have to be completely self-sufficient,” Cherokee Nation Marshal Shannon Buhl said. “We never want to go into a community and pull resources, so we bring our own water, food, medical supplies and everything we need to sustain ourselves onsite for several days.”

The Cherokee Nation has sent its water rescue team to Houston for Hurricane Harvey and had teams previously in Florida, Moore and Joplin.