UPDATE @ 11:30 a.m.: A member of Butler County's Incident Response Team says the group will likely be deployed to Florida's hardest hit areas.
Ross Twp. Fire Chief Steve Miller is part of the 11-man team headed south today to help with the aftermath of the Category 4 storm barreling toward the Gulf Coast.
Miller has been in this situation before, and he told the Journal-News that his “gut” tells him the team will be deployed to some of Florida’s hardest hit areas.
Responding to natural disasters like Hurricane Michael is all in a day’s work, Miller said.
“You take the same mind set,” he said, comparing fire fighting to natural disaster response. “You’re there to help people in need and it’s basically what we do on a day-to-day basis. It really never changes.”
EMA Chief Matt Haverkos said the group has been told it could be there for two weeks. They will be staged in Jacksonville, he said.
Butler County’s Incident Response Team is packing up supplies and getting ready to deploy to the Gulf Coast of Florida ahead of Hurricane Michael this morning.
EMA Chief Matt Haverkos said 11 emergency responders will make the trek to Florida and they have been told they could be there for two weeks. They will be staged in Jacksonville.
Michael has been upgraded to a Category 4 hurricane and Florida Gov. Rick Scott is warning it could be worst storm the state has seen in decades. Haverkos said they don’t have their exact mission yet, but he believes they will be responding to act as “mentors” to first responders who might not have experience in incident response.
“We assume we’ll be in the Gulf border counties after it hits…,” Haverkos said. “We’re probably going to be like a forward supporting arm of the state emergency management as they are trying to get intel on what’s going on and provide resources to the local counties that do not have incident management capability.”
This will not be the first time the team has been deployed to national disasters. The crew was ready to deploy to Virginia last month when Hurricane Florence pummeled the East Coast, but they never got the order to go when she took a turn south. As one of only a few accredited agencies in the state the IMT responded last year when Irma came through Florida and when hurricanes Irene and Sandy hit the U.S. in 2011 and 2012, respectively, and other major events.
For Irma, a 16-member incident management team made up of fire and police personnel from Butler County aided relief efforts from the state’s main command post in Tallahassee and further south in the state in areas hardest hit for two weeks.