VANDALIA, Ohio (WDTN) — 47 Ohio Task Force 1 members geared up and headed for their next mission in anticipation of Hurricane Idalia which is expected to make landfall Wednesday in Florida.
Hurricane Idalia has cleared the western side of Cuba and now is over very warm sea surface temperatures and weak vertical wind shear, which will only aid in the intensification of this tropical cyclone. Now projected to become a major hurricane before making landfall on Wednesday, Ohio Task Force 1 was activated on Monday and has geared up and made their way south to Atlanta as they wait out the storm.
Evan Schumann, Program Manager for Ohio Task Force 1, said, “We’ll be put into a hotel and that will be our staging location. And we’ll probably be there until the storm goes through enough that they can assess for damage. And then the states will have to ask FEMA if they want any federal support and then FEMA will send us to wherever those states are asking us to go.”
Initial forecasts just days ago had Idalia making landfall as a lower end hurricane, but the storm and wind quickly intensified beyond what was forecasted, giving Ohio Task Force 1 short time to prepare for this storm.
Jim O’Connor, Task Force Leader for Ohio Task Force 1, said, “This one honestly kind of surprised us because it was coming up and it didn’t look like it was going to become a major hurricane and the forecast here in the last day or two showed the intensification, which is why FEMA is activating the resources they’re activating.”
Since the task force does not know exactly what or where their mission will be, most of the team’s supplies, rescue vehicles and two live scent dogs are heading with them.
Schumann said, “Hurricane Ian completely wiped out entire subdivisions and houses all the way down to just their floors. A lot of times, though, it’s just where the flooding is in the houses. So, it doesn’t you know, but there’s five or six feet and we need to go get the people out of their houses. But their houses don’t get washed away. You know, sometimes cars need to be checked to see if there’s anybody in them because they’re stuck in the water.”
Schumann thanked the people of Ohio for supporting their mission and said that this mission would not be possible without the funding from the state.