SHREVEPORT, La. — Made up of fire departments, local businesses, and folks from across the state, Ohio Task Force One steps up wherever disaster aid is needed, even across the country for a deadly superstorm threatening Louisiana.
Cincinnati Fire Lt. Mike Lotz trains year-round with the crew for the opportunity to help those in danger.
“Personally, it’s being surrounded by like minded people,” he said. “I really love the work we do.”
Lotz and the task force arrived in Shreveport, Louisiana, on Thursday ready to use their skills for good.
“The only downside of it is that us using our skills usually means someone else is having a really bad day," he said. "Hopefully we’re there to make it a little better."
Currently, the team was staying at a school in Shreveport waiting to help victims of Hurricane Laura in Lake Charles.
“There’s a few downed trees around here locally, but nothing out of the ordinary," Lotz said. "They’re without power right now. That’s one of the major problems they have."
Less than 200 miles from where Laura made landfall as a Category 4 storm, Lotz and the rest of Ohio Task Force One sit waiting for a call.
"They could wake us up at 3 a.m. and say, ‘We need you to get here now.’ Then we’re going to pick up and go,” he said.
The team has prepared for water rescues, structural collapses and anything they may encounter following a disaster -- all skills they hope won’t be needed.
“There’s never an expectation," Lotz said. "We’ve come to these things and turned around and come back home. Never did a thing. Come to these things, and been really busy for a very long time."
But even in the midst of a global pandemic, if they are needed, they say they’re ready.
“We’re all wearing masks when together," Lotz said. "We’re wearing masks in the vehicles. We’re taking every precaution necessary knowing that if we do have to go operational, some of the mandates are out the window. We can’t do our job and still practice the procedures in place.”
Gov. Mike DeWine, speaking at his press conference Thursday, called Ohio Task Force One "really an amazing asset" to step up for national storm response.
“We wish them well as they help out in the aftermath of the horrific horrible storm," he said.