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As Hurricane Irma Nears Florida, Locals Gear Up to Help Out

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Dozens of U.S. airmen have headed from Travis Air Force Base to where wind and water are doing their worst, whipped up to record proportions as part of Hurricane Irma.

While the massive Atlantic attacker is slated to strike Florida Saturday, site survey and medical teams left early Thursday, with a final destination of Saint Thomas.

They're prepared to asses if large fixed wing relief aircraft can land in the ravaged Caribbean and they're prepared to help those Irma has left wounded.

"So we will be, basically, for patient movement, carrying litters from one destination to another, whether it is to an aircraft or whether it is to a safer place for them," said U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Luis Hernandez.

Having lived through hurricanes in his native Puerto Rico, now mostly unplugged thanks to Irma, this is a special mission for Hernandez.

"For me it's an honor," he said. "I think we are all very fortunate to be able to go and help."

"I started working here about 10 days after Katrina hit," said Cynthia Cowell, so it's been awhile since helping in the midst of disaster became her mission.

Once there was a federal disaster declaration for Hurricane Harvey two weeks ago, 138 Small Business Administration customer service representatives from the region were mobilized to take loan applications in Texas from business and homeowners.

With so many needing so much, Cowell said the job is stressful, but rewarding.

"Especially in the early days, there is a lot of overtime," Cowell said.

She admitted her crews don't have all the answers all the time.

"No, we don't but we can get them for ya," she said with a smile.

Now more answer-ready Sacramentans may be shipped off with the SBA to handle the aftermath of Irma.

The SBA is the country's premiere disaster loan agency.

"A lot of people will say, 'I'll never qualify for a loan.' Go ahead and apply," Cowell said. "You'd be surprised. Let us make that determination."

Though the SBA homeowners can get up to $200,000 for repairs, a maximum of just $33,000 is available from FEMA.

The Surfaces from Roseville are thankful they won't have to see what Irma does to force the need for repairs.

FOX40 first checked in on them yesterday via FaceTime while they were on the road.

They're finally in Atlanta following 17 hours of driving once their Disney cruise was cut short and docked back in Florida. In the thick evacuation traffic, they said cars were commandeering the shoulder.

"They just added their own lane and were just flying up the freeway," said a wide-eyed Dean Surface.

Luckily, they made it to Georgia and to some rest and relaxation safely.

They spent Friday at Atlanta's zoo, aquarium and Coca Cola museum, enjoying some more peaceful family time before a flight back to California Saturday.