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Hundreds of Hoosiers ready to help in aftermath of Hurricane Ian

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Hundreds of Hoosier helpers on Wednesday were already down South ready to assist with any needed recovery efforts after Hurricane Ian.

Indiana Task Force 1 and Duke Energy are among organizations getting ready to assist.

The hurricane was expected to bring massive destruction, which means crews are prepared to stay in Florida for weeks if necessary.

“They’re literally right on the coast and they will feel the major brunt of these hurricane force winds and rain,” said Sally Thelen, a spokesperson at Duke Energy. “Our guys are all trained for that. We have canines that will help us for searching for personnel and obviously the teams that are boots on the ground.”

The National Weather Service described Ian as life-threatening and devastating as it moved into southwest Florida.

Duke Energy has more than 130 employees from Indiana and about 280 lineworkers, vegetation crew members, and other workers in Florida ready to assist. “Certainly, the last thing we want is a 911 system or a major fire department, or EMA (emergency management) agency not to be able to communicate,” Thelen said.

The Duke spokesperson added, “The nature of what they do. They like to help people. They want to get the lights back on, so they’ll be anxious once things start improving from a conditions stand point to get out there and get that work underway.”

Thelen was in Orlando where people are also bracing for Ian. She says the Indiana crews at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg were feeling the impact Wednesday. “Depending on areas that are impacted and how significant that is it will impact our crews even being able to access areas, so we’re hopeful that we won’t have any issues getting out of Tropicana Field once we do get to hit the streets,” Thelen said.

More than 40 team members from Indiana Task Force 1 will be in Lake City, Florida. The search-and-rescue team leader says it can be anywhere that’s been impacted by Ian. This could mean door to door searches and stabilizing structures.

Gerald George, a leader of Indiana Task Force 1, said Wednesday, “Flooded areas are especially if it’s moving water. That’s always not only hard on individuals who are trapped there, but also using boats and people in the water in those locations, and so those are always a hazard.”

Indiana Task Force 1 says they’re also prepared for heavy rain and the possibility of tornados.