Six N.C. men lead 14-day relief mission in Florida Keys


JACKSONVILLE, Onslow County - In the aftermath of Hurricane Irma, many south Florida residents are still left without drinking water. Right now -- a crew from eastern North Carolina is on their way to the Florida Keys to fix that problem.

Jacksonville Public Services and Onslow Water and Sewer sent the first water utilities crew from North Carolina to Florida this morning to help those affected by Hurricane Irma.

"They were totally devastated with their water system," Utilities Services Superintendent Pete Deaver said. "They have no drinking water, they have no fire protection right now so they need all the help they can get."

Though several teams in North Carolina were ready to respond, the state chose this team to head out first.

"Here at the coast, water utilities work on barrier islands," Jeffrey Hudson, CEO of ONWASA, said. "We work in sandy soils and we work in all kinds of conditions."

It's those conditions that qualified this joint team from Jacksonville and ONWASA to help restore water to the residents of Florida Keys.

Matt Marshburn, one member of the ONWASA crew, said that although the Florida area is new territory for the crew, he feels like they are prepared for the trip. "It's a lot to take in," he said. "Obviously you won't know till you get there but it's a lot to think about."

Marshburn is only one of the six men who volunteered for this relief mission. He said that this is his first trip to Florida and that he'll be away from his family for two weeks.

"We're on all call, you know, 24 hours a day," Marshburn said. "(My family is) used to me leaving -- just not quite that far."

Other crew members say that they have to be fully self-suficient throughout their trip to the Florida Keys. To prepare, they've packed tents, MRE's and their own drinking water. The Jacksonville/ONWASA crew will be on this relief mission for 14 days. They expect to arrive in Florida by Sunday, September 17.