VANDALIA, Ohio (WDTN) — Ohio Task Force 1 (OH-TF1) is officially activated to help the victims of the deadly tornadoes in Kentucky.
The task force has been activated as a Type III Urban Search and Rescue team. This includes a full equipment cache, including 45 search specialists and canine search teams. They still do not know their specific location, but they will be helping search and rescue efforts in Kentucky.
Task Force leaders say this deployment may be hitting closer to home for some. It’s all about helping out our neighbors.
“The state of Ohio is helping Kentucky, our neighbor, and that to me is the bottom line. We’re going to help our fellow citizens, and in this case, it’s our next-door neighbor,” said OTF1 Program Director Evan Schumann.
So close to the buckeye border, hundreds of Kentucky families are left devastated after what officials say is possibly the longest and deadliest tornado in U.S. history. Task Force leaders say the Mayfield’s candle factory disaster is similar to the Surfside Champlain Tower collapse in Florida, but this mission could also turn in a different direction.
“This could also turn into a hurricane deployment when we go out and do wide-area searches, check on citizens but again we’re coming upon 48 hours since the tornado, Kentucky has very good resources, this is not their first tornado even if it’s their worst,” said Schumann.
Leaders say they are preparing for anything: search, rescue and recovery type missions. If surrounding communities would like to help, Schumann asks for them to contact Kentucky’s EOC first.
“The absolute thing I’d tell people not to do is freelance, is to go down on their own,” said Schumann. “They need to make certain to coordinate their work with the command structure that’s in the county or city to work cohesively with what the city needs.”
Ohio Task Force 1 is expected to stay at most 16 days in Kentucky. Tonight they are expected to leave Vandalia around 10 p.m. and drive close to six hours to Murray State University.