OH-TF1 sent to Alabama ahead of Hurricane Ian, expected to strike as Category 4 storm

Forty-seven members of Ohio Task Force 1 left their Vandalia warehouse Saturday ahead of Hurricane Ian, predicted to hit Florida’s Gulf Coast Wednesday as a Category 4 storm.

The search and rescue team left by 3:30 p.m. Saturday in a convoy of 14 semis, trucks, buses, boats and trailers, according to a social media post.

OH-TF1 spent the night in Athens, Tennessee, and by 8 a.m. Sunday was back on the road headed to Alabama, where they will await deployment, according to their update.

“Everyone is healthy, in good spirits, and ready to do good work for the impacted area,” task force leader Jack Reall said.

The National Hurricane Center is expecting Ian, now a Category 3, to strengthen further Tuesday evening into a Category 4 hurricane with 130 mph winds and 165 mph gusts in the Gulf of Mexico before turning and making a beeline to Florida’s Gulf Coast, making landfall Wednesday afternoon or evening south of Venice, closer to Port Charlotte where Hurricane Charley struck in 2004, the Orlando Sentinel reported.

“This is a very powerful storm,” said Gov. Ron DeSantis during a Tuesday evening press conference. “It will weaken once it gets on shore and by the time it moves into the state. It’s not going to cut through the whole state as a Cat 4, but very well may make impact as a Cat 4, and that’s really, really serious business.”