Ohio Task Force 1, Duke Energy head to the Carolinas ahead of Hurricane Florence

Ohio Task Force 1, Duke Energy head to the Carolinas ahead of Hurricane Florence (WKRC)

CINCINNATI, Ohio (WKRC) - Ohio Task Force 1 is activated for deployment to help ahead of Hurricane Florence.

The Urban Search and Rescue Unit is on its way to North Carolina as the Atlantic coast prepares.

The 16-member team left from its warehouse in Kettering Tuesday morning, which is earlier than usual. More task force members could be sent later if the need arises.

Many of the team members who departed were also on the team that traveled to the World Trade Center on 9/11.

Cincinnati Fire Lt. Mike Lotz remembers leaving 17 years ago as part of Ohio Task Force 1 to help after the 9/11 terror attack.

"There's three of us, that 17 years ago today, were getting ready to go to 9/11," Lotz said. “Back then we were a lot younger obviously. It was the first time this team ever deployed and it was to one of the biggest disasters ever. So, it was kind of a trial by fire.”

Lotz, and 15 other members of Ohio Task Force 1 set out for Kinston, North Carolina. That is where Hurricane Florence is expected to make landfall.

"We always say we don't want anything bad to happen but if it does, these are the guys you want coming after you," Lotz said.

They are part of a special team, known as a Water Ready Package (WRP) that is focused on search and rescue operations.

"It isn't anything new for them to run into bad situations. Most of these guys, they've been in flood situations before. We've been to [Hurricane] Harvey. We've been to [Hurricane] Matthew. So, it's just we're going into a different geographic area but a lot of the issues are going to be the same," Lotz said.

Lotz knows the team has a tough couple of days ahead but said he is looking forward to seeing some familiar faces when they arrive.

"There's still guys that we keep in contact with that we met on the pile. And we're actually going to be meeting New York [Firefighters] in North Carolina, so, I'm sure there will be some of the guys that we'll know there as well," Lotz said.

About half the members of the task force, which is based in Kettering, just outside Dayton, are from the Cincinnati area.

"Some of us have known each other upwards of 20-30 years. Some are new, some are old and the newer guys, we bring them with the older guys to try to bring them along so when we're done, they're able to keep going on and doing what they're supposed to do," Lotz said.

Duke Energy crews also left Tuesday for the Carolinas. More than one thousand employees and contract workers from Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana will help to restore power after Hurricane Florence does her damage.

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