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Hyde County Emergency Services Director Justin Gibbs is on his way to Puerto Rico to help with the Hurricane Maria recovery efforts.
Gibbs is part of a 10-person incident management team composed of local and state emergency management officials that left Tuesday morning from Raleigh for a two-week stay, according to a Hyde County press release.
Hurricane Maria–at its peak a Category 5 storm–devastated many islands, and struck Puerto Rico Sept. 20 as a high-end Category 4.
A 10-year employee with the county who has guided Hyde through multiple tropical storm and hurricane recovery efforts, Gibbs will serve as a resource unit leader supporting the Puerto Rico Emergency Management Agency’s Emergency Operations Center.
Gibbs was asked by the state deputy director of Emergency Management to join the team, said Hyde County Manager Bill Rich.
“He is so excited for being asked and being able to go,” Rich said. “He’s a power house to agree to go. He has to leave his family and baby. We’re proud of him.”
The team will join other North Carolina assistance already there, including 200 N.C. National Guard troops, and will assist with management, direction, control and coordination of response and recovery actions with local, state/territorial and federal levels of government, and coordination of public information.
“That team he’s with is definitely the A-team,” Rich said. “He’ll come back stronger just with this experience.”
Puerto Rico requested help from North Carolina through the Emergency Management Assistance Compact, which helps coordinate relief for disaster-stricken states and U.S. territories. The requesting territory (Puerto Rico in this case) fully reimburses the assisting state for the total costs incurred. All resources are coordinated between state emergency management agencies.
The EMAC system was developed by state governors following Hurricane Andrew in 1992 when critical resources were needed by the state of Florida
“Our hearts go out to the people of Puerto Rico and others working to clean up and rebuild from this year’s hurricanes,” said Governor Roy Cooper. “Experience has taught us how devastating hurricanes can be, and we’re fortunate to have strong teams of experienced professionals available to help Puerto Rico with its recovery.”