NEW ORLEANS — Members of Indiana Task Force 1 were ordered to move toward New Orleans to help with search and rescue efforts after one of the most powerful hurricanes ever to hit the U.S. mainland pushed through on Sunday and early Monday before weakening into a tropical storm.
Forty-five members of Task Force 1 were deployed to Louisiana on Friday, Aug. 27, to act as an urban search and rescue team. When they arrived, they helped local civilians and braced for impact.
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Hurricane Ida made landfall Sunday as a Category 4 storm with winds of up to 150 mph.
The hurricane swept through the Gulf Coast, breaking nearly two dozen barges loose from their mooring and leaving them to drift on the Mississippi River.
Hurricane-force winds, storm surge and heavy rain ripped off roofs, including a local hospital's, pulled down trees and power lines, and caused "catastrophic" flooding, according to FEMA.
More than a million customers in Louisiana and Mississippi — including all of New Orleans — were left without power Sunday night.
By Monday morning, IN-TF1 had been called to help.
The team received orders to move toward New Orleans. Due to widespread power outages and infrastructure damage, communication was intermittent on Monday morning. But, IN-TF1 said the team is healthy and ready to carry out any mission it receives.
On Monday, IN-TF1 was assigned the far southeastern portion of Louisiana alongside the Missouri, Colorado and Ohio task forces and federal force protection.
Now that the storm surge has begun to recede, IN-TF1 is looking to conduct secondary searches and assist those that are in need Tuesday via boat or by vehicle.
On Wednesday, IN-TF1 will finish secondary searches in Jefferson Parish and will continue their mission until local officials are satisfied.
Of the 45 members who were deployed, 20 are from the Indianapolis Fire Department. One is from the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department, 10 are civilians and the remaining represent other local fire departments.
Indiana Task Force 1 was most recently deployed to Florida to help with the Surfside condo collapse search, rescue and recovery efforts.
The team spent 16 days searching the rubble.