Ahead of Hurricane Florence making landfall in both North Carolina and South Carolina, the Upper Scioto Water Rescue Task Force from central Ohio was deployed by the Ohio Emergency Management Agency Wednesday morning to Raleigh, North Carolina.
According to Jay Carey, Ohio Emergency Management Agency public information officer, the team of 16 swiftwater technicians will be assigned to the Raleigh Fire Department, working to assist with water rescues during and after Florence makes landfall.
“These guys have been working for a year to be certified,” he said. “This is their first deployment.”
Carey said the task force left with three boats in a caravan of five vehicles at 9 a.m. Wednesday.
“They took 60 gallons of fuel so they could be self-reliant,” he said.
Carey said another team from Kettering, Ohio, a suburb of Dayton, were also deployed to the Carolinas Tuesday to get ahead of the storm.
Liberty Township Fire Chief Tom O’Brien said the task force is a collaboration of first responders from Liberty Township, Concord Township, Marysville Fire Division, Jackson Township (Grove City), Washington Township (Dublin) and Norwich Township (Hillard) fire departments.
O’Brien said three of the members in the task force were Liberty Township’s own.
“All of these departments have the potential for water rescues,” he said. “FEMA will reimburse the departments for our guys being gone.”
Concord Township Fire Chief Todd Cooper said there weren’t any members of the task force deployed from his department Wednesday, but that “they will be on the next one.”
The team’s Facebook page states the five departments consolidated its resources to be a water rescue team of swiftwater, rope and watercraft technicians.
The National Hurricane Center forecasts the additional strengthening of Florence before it reaches the coastline of the Carolinas early Friday, Sept. 14, moving through early Saturday. The center’s satellites estimate the life-threatening storm to be a powerful category 4, approximately 400 miles wide with a storm surge as high as 13 feet, which is over the top of a first-floor building.
For a better perspective of the storm’s size, the National Hurricane Center offers the example of it spanning the distance from Baltimore, Maryland, to Boston, Massachusetts.
Delaware County is approximately 600 miles from Jacksonville, North Carolina, where the storm is expected to hit.
Contact D. Anthony Botkin at 740-413-0902. Follow him on Twitter @dabotkin.