Tri-State firefighters travel south to help in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian

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COVINGTON, Ky.  — Ohio Task Force 1 is in place ready to help when Hurricane Ian hits the Florida coastline in a matter of days.

Ohio Task Force 1 is based out of Dayton, and a team of 47 left Saturday and arrived Sunday.

Ryan Marzheuser is an engineer with the Covington Fire Department. This will be his sixth time driving toward a hurricane.

The task force is currently in Southeast Alabama. Marzheuser said they are close to Pensacola, and if the storm continues to travel east they’ll likely move closer to Tampa.

He noted they have at least one team meeting day. Currently, Marzheuser said they’re preparing for the storm.

“This afternoon we’re going to work on our boats and make sure they’re ready to go. We’ve filled up all our fuel cells for the boats on the way down here,” he said. “When we get closer to where we know the hurricane is going to hit we’ll start inflating our boats, so we’ll have to pull up, put our boats in the water, and put our motors on them and go.”

He anticipates they’ll focus on water rescues, but they are ready for anything.

“We can do anything from a building collapse to water stuff. Everything that we carry, we carry down here for this hurricane, whether we use it or not we don’t (know) but it’s there just in case,” he said. “We’re looking at a lot of water stuff, so flooding, working around buildings and neighborhoods with people trapped in their houses, using our boats to get them out of there.”

Marzheuser said they brought all of their standard equipment, traveling in a convoy that included trucks, boats and 14 semis.

He noted task force members traveled from all across the state to help. He added that they are able to work 14 to 16 days. For hurricanes he said they usually work in two groups, each working a 12-hour shift or they all work a 12-hour shift. However, he added they can work up to 16 hours a day.

Marzheuser added a lot of the locals are asking what’s going on and where Hurricane Ian is going to hit. He noted he doesn’t have the answers to those questions, because he is waiting to learn more.

In the midst of devastation, he said watching people come together in the aftermath is beautiful.

‘“It makes you look at it and say ‘this is how America is or should be, or always has been.’ So, when it comes to this stuff you see, you know, the devastation, you look around and see everybody helping everybody, it’s what you want to see,” he said.

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