TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – A Florida emergency management search-and-rescue team is heading to Louisiana in anticipation of the landfall of Hurricane Laura.
The team is expected to spend about two weeks, or however long it is needed, working after the storm, Division of Emergency Management spokesman Jason Mahon said Wednesday.
According to Florida Chief Financial Officer and State Fire Marshal Jimmy Patronis, the team consists of highly trained fire service personnel from the Orange County, Orlando and Seminole County fire departments.
Loading Up | Team Lead to Crew: “Help people as best as possible.” #USAR Task Force 4 loads up for #batonrouge. 42 highly skilled Central Florida firefighters, 14 trucks, K9. TF4 is the first urban search & rescue team out of Florida heading to #HurricaneLaura @FLSERT pic.twitter.com/zxqNu4OzfI— OCFire Rescue (@OCFireRescue) August 26, 2020
The National Hurricane Center called Laura a “formidable” system, with a Wednesday morning advisory saying, “Potentially catastrophic storm surge, extreme winds, and flash flooding expected along the northwest Gulf Coast tonight. … Steps to protect life and property should be rushed to completion in the next few hours.”
Tropical Storm Marco made landfall about 6 p.m. Monday near the mouth of the Mississippi River.
As of Wednesday morning, Laura remained on a path in the Gulf of Mexico to reach an area near the Texas-Louisiana border by early Thursday.
The Florida Division of Emergency Management on Tuesday sent three staff members to help Mississippi set up shelters that comply with coronavirus health regulations.
On Tuesday, Gov. Ron DeSantis in a phone call with Texas Gov. Greg Abbott expressed a willingness to assist if the storm makes landfall in Texas, DeSantis spokesman Fred Piccolo said in an email.
Florida utilities also have sent crews to help restore electricity in the region. For example, Florida Power & Light Co. on Tuesday announced more than 300 employees and contractors were set to assist Entergy Louisiana and Entergy Texas with restoration efforts from Marco and Laura.
Also, the Florida Municipal Electric Association said Wednesday that crews from public utilities in various parts of the state will help with restoration in Louisiana.