Nola first responders to head to Puerto Rico for recovery efforts

NOLA first responders to head to Puerto Rico for recovery efforts

NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - A group of New Orleans first responders will head to Puerto Rico Thursday, to help with recovery efforts. One firefighter explains, it's a way to give back, after help our city received during Katrina.

Veteran NOFD firefighter, Cpt. Jerry Magee is ready for his next adventure.

"Anytime there's any incident I just feel the need to help," Magee said.

Thursday, he and other members of the city's all hazard incident management team will board a flight to Puerto Rico, to provide boots on the ground support. The island still struggles with a lack of drinking water, electricity and food after Hurricane Maria roared ashore in September.

Magee explains, "Anything from street cleaning to helping get power restored, we'll make sure they have water, we'll make sure they have stations for water and food and things like that."

Cpt. Magee isn't the only one who chose to go on this mission. The 10 other members of this team also said they wanted to go to help the people there.

"Incidents like this are so overwhelming, no community could handle it on their own, that's why it's important that teams like this are available, Lean Forward, that the federal government has these things set up," NOFD Chief Tim McConnell explained.

For Magee, the generosity he experienced during Katrina, serves as motivation for this trip, to help others navigate through the red tape.

He explains, "As far as the FEMA forms and the incident management things, that was all new to us, so you need to do that, you need to help people who don't necessarily know how to do those things."

With predictions that it could take up to a year to get Puerto Rico fully back up and running, Magee says he's open to future visits to help. He sees it as a way of paying it forward, helping people whose lives have been so disrupted.

The city of New Orleans will pay for the first responders to go to Puerto Rico but will then be reimbursed by the Puerto Rican government, through FEMA.