Hurricane Ian: Additional Ohio Task Force 1 personnel heads to Florida

KETTERING — UPDATE @ 8:52 p.m.:

Ohio Task Force 1 sent 36 more members to Florida on Thursday to help in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian, which on Thursday night was spinning its way toward the Carolinas as a Category 1 hurricane after degrading briefly to a tropical storm.

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The extra task force personnel is in addition to the 47 OH-TF 1 members who left Kettering last Saturday, headed for Florida.

“Because of the intensity of this hurricane when it hit [Wednesday], FEMA has decided to up the capability of several of the teams it deployed,” task force Program Manager Evan Schumann told News Center 7′s Molly Koweek.

“I suspect that we will be involved in some pretty serious operations over the next three, four, five days down there,” he said.

The mission call is no problem for Kim Hoekstra, a retired Cincinnati firefighter and veteran team member.

“It’s one of the greatest feelings that we are able to go out and help people, that we are there to serve them. I’ve done this (answering a call) all my life. We’re a team as one and I’m part of what needs to be done.”

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The additional members are skilled in the various aspects of search and rescue operations as well as HazMat, medical, logistics, safety, communications and planning.

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Their specific destination is yet to be determined.

The Butler County Incident Management Team also was deployed through the Emergency Management Assistance Compact to support a logistics staging area for the Florida Emergency Management Agency.

The Ohio Emergency Management Agency “continues to remain in contact with our response partners and the Ohio National Guard to provide support to the states and communities impacted by Hurricane Ian,” Ohio EMA Executive Director Sima Merick said in a statement released Thursday afternoon. “We have highly skilled response personnel and resources available to help the hurricane and flood-ravaged states respond, recover and rebuild from the storms.”

News Center 7 and whio.com will continue tp update this developing story.