Local nurses heading to Florida to help care for hurricane victims

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KENANSVILLE, N.C. (WITN) - As people from Florida prepare to return to their homes after Hurricane Irma, a group of nurses from Vidant Duplin Hospital are preparing to travel down to Florida this week and provide care to patients displaced by this disaster.

"In desperate need of help," that's the call Project Hope put out this weekend as they prepare to set up a medical clinic and provide care to those affected by Hurricane Irma in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.

It's a call at least five nurses from Vidant Duplin Hospital have answered.

"There is a shelter that has 500 geriatric patients, so we'll be going down to set up a medical clinic for these people and to assist however the state of Florida needs us," says Kim Langston, a nurse manager.

Originally on their way to Houston to help with Hurricane Harvey, these nurses were rerouted this weekend to Florida and will be among the first medical professionals to respond to the disaster.

"All the hurricanes we've had in Eastern Carolina, the Fran's the Bertha's, Dennis, Floyd, and as of late, Mathew, last year," says Daniel Bell, RN. "We've had a lot of help from outside communities from miles and miles away and we should give back."

While heading towards a disaster area would usually be the last thing anyone would want to do, these nurses say that this type of service is their duty.

"It is an overwhelming feeling, you know, just knowing these people are going through such a disaster, and it is just really sad and it's really tough," says Katelyn Herring, RN. "But I'm really excited that I have the abilities that I've been given and my knowledge base that I can actually go help these people and be a benefit to them."

Those nurses will be leaving for Florida as soon as possible.

They say the only reason they haven't left already is that they need to fly into Miami and the Miami airport is currently flooded. As soon as flights are approved to enter that area, they'll be on their way down.

Project Hope, the organization that arranged this trip, recruits what they call teams of expert volunteers with specific medical backgrounds to provide targeted responses that assist local efforts.