COLUMBUS (WCMH) – As Hurricane Ida pounds parts of the Gulf Coast, some Ohioans are there ready to help.
Ohio Task Force One, the search and rescue team, is in Louisiana.
As the storm hits, the team is waiting to see where its help is needed, something members said usually happens after the worst of the storm has passed.
Ohio Task Force One arrived in Louisiana Saturday and has been spending a lot of time on Sunday preparing equipment.
“At the end of the day, this is what this team trains for,” said Ohio Task Force 1 Rescue Squad Officer Craig Mignogno. “And we’re always ready for it.”
The 45 Ohio team members on the mission are staging in Lafayette — about 135 miles west of New Orleans — until they are assigned a location.
Mignogno said that as of 3:15 p.m. Ohio time (2:15 p.m. in Louisiana), they saw some rain where the team is stationed, but were expecting conditions to worsen.
“This is tough but this is, this kind of stuff and getting to be able to come to different parts of the country and apply what we’re really good at and get to help people from all over the country and do that from Ohio is why most everybody’s here,” he said.
Mignogno is a lieutenant with the Columbus Division of Fire and has been with Ohio Task Force One for 22 years.
Along with other team members, he’s helped out with several hurricanes on the Gulf Coast, everything from rescues on boats, neighborhood evacuations, and distribute food and supplies.
With Ida, it’s still too early to tell what the team will be doing.
“So anything and everything in between,” Mignogno said. “At the point the storm rolls through, there’s just no telling. There really isn’t, so that’s why I said at the beginning of this, we remain extremely flexible sitting here in Lafayette, we plan for multiple different contingencies.”
Members of the team in Louisiana were also at the site of the condominium collapse in Florida earlier this summer. Now, just six weeks later, they’re back offering their aid to others in need.
“It’s taxing on everybody in a lot of different ways,” Mignogno said.
He said he’s not sure how long the team will be stationed in Louisiana, adding it could be up to two weeks.