N.J. Task Force 1 heads south to help with Hurricane Ida rescue, recovery efforts

Forty-five members of the elite rescue team were sent to a staging area in Alabama as the Category 4 storm made landfall in Louisiana

Katie Kausch

TRENTON, N.J. — Rescue workers from New Jersey are in Alabama to help with rescue and recovery efforts as Hurricane Ida makes its way inland.

Forty-five members of New Jersey Task Force 1 were sent to an Alabama staging area awaiting assignment as the hurricane makes landfall in Louisiana on Sunday, New Jersey state Office of Emergency Management Sgt. Joseph Walsh told NJ Advance Media. Thirty-five of them are in “technically skilled positions,” and the other ten are ground support personnel.

“Our team members are ready and prepared to assist in any way needed to successfully complete their mission,” Walsh said.

With them, the team brought water rescue gear, as well as other tools and vehicles, he said.

All task force members undergo at least two years of training before they can be deployed, state police public information officer Laura Connolly previously told NJ Advance Media.

The members have full-time day jobs in addition to working on the task force. They include doctors, engineers, firefighters, police officers and communications specialists.

The team also deployed in July to the deadly condominium collapse in Surfside, Florida outside Miami.

The storm began to make landfall Sunday afternoon as a Category 4 hurricane, the National Hurricane Center said.

“This is a life-threatening situation. Persons located within these areas should take all necessary actions to protect life and property from rising water and the potential for other dangerous conditions,” the center said in an afternoon warning.

Ida threatens a region already reeling from a resurgence of COVID-19 infections, due to low vaccination rates and the highly contagious delta variant.

New Orleans hospitals planned to ride out the storm with their beds nearly full, as similarly stressed hospitals elsewhere had little room for evacuated patients. And shelters for those fleeing their homes carried an added risk of becoming flashpoints for new infections.

Gov. John Bel Edwards vowed Saturday that Louisiana’s “resilient and tough people” would weather the storm. He also noted shelters would operate with reduced capacities “to reflect the realities of COVID.”

The storm could bring as much as six inches of rain to New Jersey when it reaches the state later this week, but it remains too early to make specific forecasts, meteorologists said.

©2021 Advance Local Media LLC. Visit nj.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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