KINSTON, N.C. - Ohio Task Force One has joined the effort to rescue stranded flood victims in North Carolina.
More than 900 people have already been rescued in the path of what once was Hurricane Florence, North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said, and those numbers will increase significantly, according to Phil Sinewe, public information officer for Ohio Task Force One.
"Most of the flood activity we've seen has started today,” Sinewe said Sunday. “I don't have any doubt that will ramp up the next day or two. They'll get busier and busier for calls and the need for help."
Ohio Task Force One, based in Dayton, responds to major disasters to help with rescue and recovery. Last year, OH-TF1 helped Hurricane Harvey victims in Texas.
OH-TF1 helped dozens of people escape an apartment complex in Houston and helped move 90 residents from an assisted living facility in the path of flooding in Katy.
OH-TF1 has two crews, Alpha and Bravo. One of Alpha’s first rescues in North Carolina was a cat clinging to a chain-link fence, Sinewe said. Both crews have been picking up stranded motorists.
"We're hoping to not do anything, not go rescue anybody," he said facetiously. "But of course, that's not why our guys are there. Our guys are there to do rescues."
More than 170 roads in North Carolina are impassable, including two major highways.
Sinewe said their biggest concern at this point is people wanting to leave their homes.
"That's no different than here in Cincinnati. Someone ventures out after a really bad storm, thinks they can drive through high water. That's multiplied by thousands of people," he said.
Sinewe said he doesn't expect OH-TF1 to be in North Carolina for longer than a week, though they could move to West Virginia to help with rescues there.