More suburban firefighters deploying to Louisiana after Hurricane Ida
As one specialized team of Illinois firefighters headed home from hurricane-ravaged Louisiana on Monday, another group prepared for deployment.
Forty-five members of the Illinois Urban Search and Rescue Team spent nearly a week in Louisiana, assigned to help people trapped by floodwaters following the deadly storm.
They were scheduled to arrive back at the group's Wheeling headquarters Monday night.
Meanwhile, three strike teams -- each with five fire engines and their crews -- likely will start the drive south early Tuesday.
Making landfall Aug. 29, Ida dumped heavy rains on Louisiana, causing flash floods and damaging buildings and infrastructure. New Orleans was left without electricity.
The storm subsequently headed north through the eastern United States, flooding New York City and other locales. Dozens of people reportedly were killed by the storm in several states.
Also known as Illinois Task Force 1, the Illinois Urban Search and Rescue Team is composed of firefighters from departments participating in the Mutual Aid Box Alarm System, a statewide disaster response program.
Firefighters from departments in Arlington Heights, Carol Stream, Elk Grove Village, Glenview, Lisle, Naperville, Northbrook and Schaumburg were among those sent to Louisiana.
They left Wheeling early Aug. 30 in a 16-vehicle convoy and arrived the next night, said MABAS President Don Davids. They worked with similar teams from other states in Louisiana.
In addition to searching for people to rescue, the firefighters distributed military-style food rations, water and even oxygen tanks to people displaced by the storm or sheltering in the remains of their homes.
"Most of the residents encountered do not want to leave even though they are without food, water or medical supplies," a MABAS representative posted on the agency's Facebook page Friday.
The team was released by Louisiana authorities Sunday morning, Davids said, allowing them to return to Illinois.
An estimated 15 firefighters will be part of the new convoy scheduled to leave Tuesday morning, Davids said. They'll supplement local firefighters in Louisiana, he said.
This isn't the first hurricane-related assignment for the Illinois Urban Search and Rescue Team. In 2018, it was deployed to North Carolina after Hurricane Florence.