LUTZ – A Hurricane Florence response team made up of fire rescue personnel from the Tampa Bay area, including Pasco County, returned from North Carolina last week.

Firefighters from Pasco County Fire Rescue, Hillsborough County Fire Rescue and Temple Terrace Fire Rescue deployed to storm-ravaged North Carolina on Sept. 11 to assist in initial recovery efforts. The firefighters are part of the Florida Division of Emergency Management’s State Emergency Response Team Region 4/6 All Hazard Incident Management Team. SERT members also included those individuals from the Florida Department of Emergency Management, USF Emergency Management, Pinellas County Emergency Management, Lakeland Fire Rescue and Lakeland Police Department.

According to a Pasco County Fire Rescue press release, the 14-day deployment assisted in some of the hardest-hit areas of coastal North Carolina. The team arrived at Wilmington and supported recovery efforts throughout Brunswick County.

Although Florence downgraded to a Category 1 hurricane by the time it made landfall, heavy, sustained rainfall and storm surge resulted in extensive damage and the deaths of at least 48 people in the Carolinas and Virginia, according to a Sept. 27 report from The Weather Channel.

As reported by the Wall Street Journal on Sept. 21, Moody’s Analytics has estimated the economic cost of Florence to be between $38 billion and $50 billion, ranking it in the top 10 among costliest storms to affect the United States.

The local response teams returned last week, and Pasco County Fire Rescue held a media event Sept. 26 at Fire Station 23, on State Road 54, just east of U.S.41.