Virginians head down to Florida to assist with Idalia aftermath

Members of Virginia Task Force 2 left Virginia Beach Monday night to make their way down to...
Members of Virginia Task Force 2 left Virginia Beach Monday night to make their way down to Florida.(Virginia Beach Fire Department)
Published: Aug. 29, 2023 at 11:13 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) -Tuesday night, 80 members of Virginia Task Force 2 members are on stand-by in Orlando as Idalia prepares to land at Florida’s Big Bend region.

“We go where we’re told to go, and this is our destination for now,” Mike Brashear with Virginia Task Force 2 said. “This does put us a little south of the track, which puts us in a great location for assisting tomorrow after the hurricane hits.”

Brashear said his team’s number-one priority going into this storm is search and rescue.

He said his team is equipped with boats and members who are experts in swiftwater rescues to get the job done.

“We bring ER doctors with us, we’re fully self-sufficient, we also have four search canines that are with us,” Brashear said. “We typically plan to stay out for a minimum of 14 days.”

He said once they receive the word from FEMA, they’ll deploy in whichever area needs the most help.

“If I remember right, Tallahassee, that’s the closest city maybe that’s probably largely populated that it’s probably close enough there to cause issues there,” Brashear said.

Tallahassee is also where Raymond LeBlanc, with Mercy Chefs, arrived after leaving Richmond this week.

”We’re responding to this hurricane in order to provide food relief for first responders and victims of the catastrophic damage that’s going to come with this storm,” LeBlanc said.

LeBlanc said the emergency communication center will be about 30 minutes south of where they are, but his team is prepared to assist wherever possible.

”We’re partnering with the organizations there. However, our distribution site is going to be more in line with the path of destruction of the storm,” LeBlanc said. “We’re going to get a little bit deeper to where the storm surge is and where the need for the people really is.”

If you would like to help Mercy Chefs while they assist in Florida, click here.