VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — Ahead of Tropical Storm Ian's predicted landfall in the United States, first responders from Hampton Roads are already preparing to help.
Members of Virginia Task Force 2 (VATF-2) began their travels to Georgia late Saturday afternoon, so that they can position closer to the storm's forecasted path.
"We're staging there as a central location, and then they'll adjust us as the storm progresses," said Task Force Leader Brian Sullivan.
VATF-2 has been activated as a 45-person Type 3 team. Eight IST Cache members are also responding.
The urban search and rescue team's deployment comes days after Hurricane Fiona pummeled through Puerto Rico and other Caribbean islands.
13News Now watched as crew members deployed in anticipation of Tropical Storm Ian.
"We have equipment for structural collapse, for flooding, for wind damage, for searching large areas," said Sullivan.
Forecasters predict Tropical Storm Ian making landfall in the United States within the next week or so. It’s expected to become a major hurricane in the eastern half of the Gulf of Mexico. Until landfall, it’s not clear whether it would keep that intensity.
Sullivan said an experienced team is ready to respond, if or when disaster strikes, "We have numerous fire department members here, as well as civilian members. We have various specialties on the team, such as K-9 search and rescue handlers, two K-9 search dogs that are deploying with us, as well as a physician and an engineer."
It's not yet clear where VATF-2 will assist and how long they'll be gone. However, Sullivan said they're proud to answer the call.
"We're well prepared, well represented, and we'll do our best to help anybody and everybody we can," he said.
Sullivan also wanted to take an opportunity to thank his family and families of the deployed crew members. He said their sacrifices during deployment are also recognized.
This summer, members of VATF-2 also deployed to Kentucky after the devastating floods. And in 2021, crews responded to Louisiana due to Hurricane Ida, Surfside, Florida following the condo collapse and tornado-ravaged Kentucky.