Timeline: Ohio Task Force One’s rescue efforts on East Coast

Ohio Task Force One is on the East Coast this week for search and rescue operations following Hurricane Sandy. Seventy-nine members of the task force and 80 from Indiana Task Force One were deployed to the Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst on Tuesday afternoon.

This timeline includes updates from Cox Media Group Ohio staff who are embedded with the task force.

You can also get updates on Twitter by following @whiotv, @JessicaHeffnerWHIO, @DrewSimonBNT and using the hashtag #OHTF1.



6:48 p.m.

OHTF1 just learned they will be leaving in buses at 6 a.m. to head to Seaside Heights on the Jersey Shore.

Reports indicate there is no infrastructure remaining there and teams are being airlifted in from New York and other parts of New Jersey.

Our reporters will be traveling with convoy.

6 p.m. We’ve just learned that OHTF1 is being assigned a mission, most likely for early tomorrow morning. They’re getting briefed right now and we’ll report the details soon.

1:40 p.m.: Ohio Task Force 1 members are training to use lifts with helicopters and getting search and rescue dogs used to being around helicopters. They are preparing to be deployed to areas along the coast that have not yet been searched for people. Missions are occuring throughout the day.

Noon: Mitch Ross, of the Upper Arlington Fire Department, and Gene Thomas, of the Fairborn Fire Department, are preparing for their first mission with Ohio Task Force One. They are being briefed on the aerial reconnaissance mission.

10:40 a.m. Two task force members, a search team manager and a planning manager are performing aerial reconnaissance mission abour a blackhawk helicopter. They’ll be doing damage mapping of the coastlines in New Jersey and New York. Some areas of the coast have not been viewed yet, according to task force officials. They will determine what areas still need searched, and there may ve additional missions for the task force if FEMA says there is still a need for search and rescue teams.

8:24 a.m. Task Force One has been moved up to a “30-minute wheel” which means they must be ready to go in 30 minutes if they are called up. The task force knows there will be several helicopter missions today, but have not been told if they’ll be one of them.

7:36 a.m. Lines for gasoline remain long everywhere on the coast. Power is slowly being restored. The death toll in

the United States because of Hurricane Sandy is now at 56, and 124 total after dozens of deaths occured in the Caribbean. Army Corps engineers are expected to begin pumping water from flooded tunnels today.


6:40 p.m. Ohio Task Force One completed training exercises today in GPS, compass, helicopter and K-9 search and rescue while awaiting their assignment. Indiana Task Force One deployed to Long Island today.

2:22 p.m. While awaiting orders, Ohio Task Force One is completing GPS training.

1:44 p.m. The Cox Media Group Ohio staff members with the Ohio Task Force One have been given permission to go on base with the group. President Obama is expected to be at the base to review the damages in the area.

12:12 p.m. I just got a bulletin from the Joint Base McGuire-Dix where Ohio Taskforce One is stationed. The base is on yellow alert because of the storm. They report many downed trees and power lines because of the storm. The base security has blocked off roads for safety reasons. - Jessica Heffner Noon Lines to businesses with power are long. Columbus residents are seeking places to eat and fill their gas tanks. It seems everywhere you look, there is a long line. - Jessica Heffner

11:16 a.m. Update from Jessica Heffner, in Columbus, N.J.: The Ohio responders are awaiting the final order for task forces on where to enter into New Jersey. They may need to enter via helicopter. Security is high at McGuire-Dix Joint Air Base. President Obama is visiting the state today and he may fly into the base. There is no power in Columbus about 20 minutes from the base. Businesses are using backup generators. Traffic lights are out. 8:30 a.m. The team, which met up with 80 members of Indiana Task Force One in Akron this morning, is staged at Joint Base McGuire Dix Lakehurst in New Jersey. An exact assignment is expected around 9 a.m. today.


9:30 p.m. Our crew was travelling through eastern Pennsylvania and reported many towns in total darkness. They’ve been driving through stiff winds and a mix of rain and snow on their way through Pennsylvania on Interstate 80 today. Scott Hall with Task Force One said the the requests coming in for urban search and rescue far outweighs the number of rescuers available, and the team will likely head straight to an area in need. The team was activated by FEMA. About 30 percent of team members are from the Miami Valley area. Members are trained in two functions, including structural collapses due to wind damage and water rescue. Water rescue will deal specifically with people trapped by flood waters, Hall said.

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