BOSTON (CBS) – The TS Kennedy left dock in Bourne on Wednesday, headed to Houston where it will be used as a living space for hundreds of FEMA workers who are assisting flood victims in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.
About a dozen staff members from the Mass Maritime Academy will be stationed for up to two months.
“When you get called, you respond,” said Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker. “We had so many states that came to our aid during snow storm, I think this is a great way for us to reciprocate the favor.”
Similar to the last time the TS Kennedy was activated in 2012 for super storm Sandy, the training ship will be used to house hundreds of FEMA workers in order to free up hotel space for people displaced by the flooding.
“The FEMA workers will be the first responders out and about trying to help folks find housing or start to work though the labyrinth of paperwork they need to do paperwork in order to make any kind of recovery,” said RADM Francis McDonald.
It should take the ship about four days to get to Houston, though they are keeping a close eye on Hurricane Irma.
McDonald said it’s possible the ship will have to anchor in Norfolk, Virginia, to let Irma run her path.
In Bourne, the ship normally provides lab and classroom space, and even living quarters for about 50 cadets. They have been relocated until the ship returns.
“We’re happy to be able to play a part in this. From a distance a way to play even a small part in the relief effort is something we take very seriously,” said McDonald.
The TS Kennedy belongs to the federal government. It is on loan at Mass Maritime Academy under the understanding that it can be called back in the case of a national emergency.
Another group of Massachusetts residents is also heading to Houston to assist.
Twenty-eight nurses from Massachusetts are on their way to a flooded part of Texas to relieve some of the overwhelmed staff at one hospital.
The Massachusetts Health & Hospital Association answered the call from the Bay Area Regional Medical Center in Webster, Texas, which has been inundated with patients while dealing with parts of their facility being under water.
WBZ-TV’s David Robichaud reports
Many of the doctors, nurses and other staff at BARMC lost their own homes in the floods and have been living at the hospital, working countless hours.
“They’ve been working non-stop, so for us to go down and help relieve them is really important,” said Jeannie Hanlon, a nurse from Boston Medical Center.
BARMC chartered a plane to fly the nurses down to Texas. They left from Bedford, Mass. on Wednesday morning.
WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Doug Cope reports