WPAFB, DP&L ready to help those in Hurricane Irma path

5:13 p.m Thursday, Sept. 7, 2017 Local
Two Florida Air National Guard F-15 fighter jets arrived at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base on Thursday, ahead of the expected landfall of Hurricane Irma in Florida BOB GARLOCK/STAFF

Support from local companies and military have sprung into action to provide as much assistance as possible as Hurricane Irma, already on deadly path, approaches Florida.

Eight F-15 Eagle Florida Air National Guard fighter jets arrived at Wright Patterson Air Force Base Thursday, in order to evade the landfall of the powerful storm, according to base officials.

Arrivals were expected Friday of six more F-15s, eight P-8 Poseidon anti-submarine hunter jets from Naval Air Station Jacksonville, Fla., and three C-17 Globemaster IIIs from Charleston Air Force Base, S.C.

RELATED: Wright-Patt aircrews bring food, troops to devastated Texas

Other units from the southeast United States could send aircraft to Wright-Patt to act as a refuge from the fierce storm that reportedly had sustained winds of 185 mph and gusts up to 225 mph as it churned through the Atlantic.

Last week, Wright-Patt crews delivered troops, food and equipment to flooded areas devastated by Hurricane Harvey.

While the Wright-Patt takes in military aircraft from Florida, another local military operation is providing assistance to first responders in Puerto Rico.

Six airmen from the 269th Combat Communications Squadron in Springfield are preparing to deploy to Puerto Rico to provide communications support for first responders and other government agencies in response to Irma, according to information from the Ohio Air National Guard.

RELATED: Wright-Patt air crews deliver 35 tons to Hurricane-ravaged Texas

The 269th Combat Communications Squadron has provided tactical communications support for Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and more recently, the 2016 Republican National Convention. The squadron is capable of providing communications capabilities with mobile satellite, electricity, telephone and other services.

With several local military operations doing what they can to lend a hand, DP&L sent linemen to Georgia.

The linemen left Thursday morning and will stage in Georgia outside of the hurricane’s path, Mark Gonet, Operations Manager, said.

Gonet said 16 crew members will await instructions from Duke energy in Florida, as part of a national network of utility companies that assist during natural disasters.

As for what DP&L crews can expect, much like the path of the storm, that’s up in the air.

RELATED: DP&L linemen ready to help with Hurricane Irma power outages

“We don’t know exactly, but it will be to restore power in whatever capacity.” For now, DP&L will continue to monitor the storm and adjust to the unexpected.

While emergency crews head to the south for Irma, the city of Houston is still reeling from damages caused by Harvey. Roadside assistance crews from AAA traveled to Houston on Thursday with to help with the recovery and removal of flood-damaged vehicles.

A convoy of six drivers and three trucks from Cincinnati, Dayton and Toledo will join fleets from several other states in recovery efforts according to AAA Fleet Operations Manager Chris Overpeck.

“We’re sending crews not only from Ohio, but from Kansas, Oklahoma, Maryland and Pennsylvania as well. If Florida gets hit and they request help, we’ll offer it up as well,” Overpeck said.

Ohio Task Force 1, the FEMA-regulated response team, has their deployment information “up in the air” according to Public Information Officer Phil Senewe.

“Right now, we’re just on standby,” Senewe said. “We could go in the next 24 hours, depending on the storm’s track, or they could send us after if there’s enough damage.”

Sinewe said FEMA has already deployed eight Type 1 deployments for relief efforts. If OH-FT1 sends a Type 1 unit like they’re anticipating, they would deploy 80 to 85 first responders to affected areas.

Staff Writers Barrie Barber and Matt Sanctis contributed to this report.

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