Va., Md. first responders stationed in Georgia for Hurricane Irma’s wrath

This Sept. 6, 2017 photo shows storm damage in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma in St. Martin. Irma cut a path of devastation across the northern Caribbean, leaving thousands homeless after destroying buildings and uprooting trees. Significant damage was reported on the island known as St. Martin in English which is divided between French Saint-Martin and Dutch Sint Maarten. (Jonathan Falwell via AP)
This Sept. 6, 2017 photo shows storm damage in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma in St. Martin. Irma cut a path of devastation across the northern Caribbean, leaving thousands homeless after destroying buildings and uprooting trees. Significant damage was reported on the island known as St. Martin in English which is divided between French Saint-Martin and Dutch Sint Maarten. (Jonathan Falwell via AP)

This Sept. 6, 2017 photo shows storm damage in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma in St. Martin. Irma cut a path of devastation across the northern Caribbean, leaving thousands homeless after destroying buildings and uprooting trees. Significant damage was reported on the island known as St. Martin in English which is divided between French Saint-Martin and Dutch Sint Maarten. (Jonathan Falwell via AP)
This Sept. 6, 2017 photo shows storm damage in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma in St. Martin. Irma cut a path of devastation across the northern Caribbean, leaving thousands homeless after destroying buildings and uprooting trees. Significant damage was reported on the island known as St. Martin in English which is divided between French Saint-Martin and Dutch Sint Maarten. (Jonathan Falwell via AP)

This Sept. 6, 2017 photo shows storm damage in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma, in St. Martin. Irma cut a path of devastation across the northern Caribbean, leaving thousands homeless after destroying buildings and uprooting trees. Significant damage was reported on the island known as St. Martin in English which is divided between French Saint-Martin and Dutch Sint Maarten. (Jonathan Falwell via AP)
This Sept. 6, 2017 photo shows storm damage in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma, in St. Martin. Irma cut a path of devastation across the northern Caribbean, leaving thousands homeless after destroying buildings and uprooting trees. Significant damage was reported on the island known as St. Martin in English which is divided between French Saint-Martin and Dutch Sint Maarten. (Jonathan Falwell via AP)

This Sept. 6, 2017 photo provided by the Dutch Defense Ministry shows storm damage in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma, in St. Maarten. Irma cut a path of devastation across the northern Caribbean, leaving thousands homeless after destroying buildings and uprooting trees. Significant damage was reported on the island that is split between French and Dutch control. (Gerben Van Es/Dutch Defense Ministry via AP)
This Sept. 6, 2017 photo provided by the Dutch Defense Ministry shows storm damage in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma, in St. Maarten. Irma cut a path of devastation across the northern Caribbean, leaving thousands homeless after destroying buildings and uprooting trees. Significant damage was reported on the island that is split between French and Dutch control. (Gerben Van Es/Dutch Defense Ministry via AP)

This Sept. 6, 2017 photo shows storm damage in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma in St. Martin. Irma cut a path of devastation across the northern Caribbean, leaving thousands homeless after destroying buildings and uprooting trees. Significant damage was reported on the island known as St. Martin in English which is divided between French Saint-Martin and Dutch Sint Maarten. (Jonathan Falwell via AP)
This Sept. 6, 2017 photo shows storm damage in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma in St. Martin. Irma cut a path of devastation across the northern Caribbean, leaving thousands homeless after destroying buildings and uprooting trees. Significant damage was reported on the island known as St. Martin in English which is divided between French Saint-Martin and Dutch Sint Maarten. (Jonathan Falwell via AP)

A home is surrounded by debris brought in by Hurricane Irma in Nagua, Dominican Republic, Thursday, Sept. 7, 2017. Irma cut a path of devastation across the northern Caribbean, leaving thousands homeless after destroying buildings and uprooting trees. Irma flooded parts of the Dominican Republic when it roared by Thursday, just off the northern coast of the island it shares with Haiti. (AP Photo/Tatiana Fernandez)
A home is surrounded by debris brought in by Hurricane Irma in Nagua, Dominican Republic, Thursday, Sept. 7, 2017. Irma cut a path of devastation across the northern Caribbean, leaving thousands homeless after destroying buildings and uprooting trees. Irma flooded parts of the Dominican Republic when it roared by Thursday, just off the northern coast of the island it shares with Haiti. (AP Photo/Tatiana Fernandez)

This image made from video shows damage from Hurricane Irma in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, Thursday, Sept. 7, 2017. Hurricane Irma weakened slightly Thursday with sustained winds of 175 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center. The storm boasted 185 mph winds for a more than 24-hour period, making it the strongest storm ever recorded in the Atlantic Ocean. The storm was expected to arrive in Cuba by Friday. It could hit the Florida mainland by late Saturday, according to hurricane center models. (AP Photo/Ian Brown)
This image made from video shows damage from Hurricane Irma in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, Thursday, Sept. 7, 2017. Hurricane Irma weakened slightly Thursday with sustained winds of 175 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center. The storm boasted 185 mph winds for a more than 24-hour period, making it the strongest storm ever recorded in the Atlantic Ocean. The storm was expected to arrive in Cuba by Friday. It could hit the Florida mainland by late Saturday, according to hurricane center models. (AP Photo/Ian Brown)

This image made from video shows flooding caused by Hurricane Irma on Charlotte Amalie, in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, Thursday, Sept. 7, 2017. Hurricane Irma weakened slightly Thursday with sustained winds of 175 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center. The storm boasted 185 mph winds for a more than 24-hour period, making it the strongest storm ever recorded in the Atlantic Ocean. The storm was expected to arrive in Cuba by Friday. It could hit the Florida mainland by late Saturday, according to hurricane center models. (AP Photo/Ian Brown)
This image made from video shows flooding caused by Hurricane Irma on Charlotte Amalie, in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, Thursday, Sept. 7, 2017. Hurricane Irma weakened slightly Thursday with sustained winds of 175 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center. The storm boasted 185 mph winds for a more than 24-hour period, making it the strongest storm ever recorded in the Atlantic Ocean. The storm was expected to arrive in Cuba by Friday. It could hit the Florida mainland by late Saturday, according to hurricane center models. (AP Photo/Ian Brown)

In this Thursday, Sept. 7, 2017 photo, Juan Negron, right, prepares to start up a power generator in front of whats left of his damaged property, after the passage of Hurricane Irma, in the island of Culebra, Puerto Rico. About a million people were without power in the U.S. territory after Irma passed just to the north, lashing the island with heavy wind and rain. Nearly 50,000 also were without water. (AP Photo/Carlos Giusti)
In this Thursday, Sept. 7, 2017 photo, Juan Negron, right, prepares to start up a power generator in front of whats left of his damaged property, after the passage of Hurricane Irma, in the island of Culebra, Puerto Rico. About a million people were without power in the U.S. territory after Irma passed just to the north, lashing the island with heavy wind and rain. Nearly 50,000 also were without water. (AP Photo/Carlos Giusti)

In this Thursday, Sept. 7, 2017, photo, damage is left after Hurricane Irma hit Barbuda. Hurricane Irma battered the Turks and Caicos Islands early Friday as the fearsome Category 5 storm continued a rampage through the Caribbean that has killed a number of people, with Florida in its sights. (AP Photo/Anika E. Kentish)
In this Thursday, Sept. 7, 2017, photo, damage is left after Hurricane Irma hit Barbuda. Hurricane Irma battered the Turks and Caicos Islands early Friday as the fearsome Category 5 storm continued a rampage through the Caribbean that has killed a number of people, with Florida in its sights. (AP Photo/Anika E. Kentish)

In this Thursday, Sept. 7, 2017, photo, damage is left after Hurricane Irma hit Barbuda. Hurricane Irma battered the Turks and Caicos Islands early Friday as the fearsome Category 5 storm continued a rampage through the Caribbean that has killed a number of people, with Florida in its sights. (AP Photo/Anika E. Kentish)
In this Thursday, Sept. 7, 2017, photo, damage is left after Hurricane Irma hit Barbuda. Hurricane Irma battered the Turks and Caicos Islands early Friday as the fearsome Category 5 storm continued a rampage through the Caribbean that has killed a number of people, with Florida in its sights. (AP Photo/Anika E. Kentish)

Virginia Task Force 1 of Fairfax County, Virginia, is also stationed in Katy, Texas, (Courtesy Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service)
Virginia Task Force 1 of Fairfax County, Virginia, was also stationed in Katy, Texas. (Courtesy Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service)

Virginia Task Force 1 of Fairfax County is working in the Kingwood, Texas, area Thursday. (Courtesy Fairfax County Fire and Rescue)
Virginia Task Force 1 of Fairfax County worked in the Kingwood, Texas, area last Thursday. (Courtesy Fairfax County Fire and Rescue)

Virginia Task Force 1 of Fairfax County worked in the Kingwood, Texas, area Thursday. (Courtesy Fairfax County Fire and Rescue)
Virginia Task Force 1 of Fairfax County worked in the Kingwood, Texas, area last Thursday. (Courtesy Fairfax County Fire and Rescue)

Virginia Task Force 1 was among the flat and swift water boat teams working around Kingwood, which is north of Houston. (Courtesy Fairfax County Fire and Rescue)
Virginia Task Force 1 was among the flat and swift water boat teams working around Kingwood, which is north of Houston. (Courtesy Fairfax County Fire and Rescue)

Members of Virginia Task Force 1 on Thursday prepare for a full day of operations in which people and pets were rescued. In some cases people were delivered back to flooded homes to retrieve medicine or important papers. (Courtesy Fairfax County Fire and Rescue)
Members of Virginia Task Force 1 helped rescue people last week in Texas. (Courtesy Fairfax County Fire and Rescue)

In this Thursday, Sept. 7, 2017 photo, Juan Negron, right, prepares to start up a power generator in front of whats left of his damaged property, after the passage of Hurricane Irma, in the island of Culebra, Puerto Rico. About a million people were without power in the U.S. territory after Irma passed just to the north, lashing the island with heavy wind and rain. Nearly 50,000 also were without water. (AP Photo/Carlos Giusti)
In this Thursday, Sept. 7, 2017 photo, Juan Negron, right, prepares to start up a power generator in front of whats left of his damaged property, after the passage of Hurricane Irma, in the island of Culebra, Puerto Rico. About a million people were without power in the U.S. territory after Irma passed just to the north, lashing the island with heavy wind and rain. Nearly 50,000 also were without water. (AP Photo/Carlos Giusti)

Rescue staff from the Municipal Emergency Management Agency investigate an empty flooded car during the passage of Hurricane Irma through the northeastern part of the island in Fajardo, Puerto Rico, Wednesday, Sept. 6, 2017. Hurricane Irma lashed Puerto Rico with heavy rain and powerful winds, leaving nearly 900,000 people without power as authorities struggled to get aid to small Caribbean islands already devastated by the historic storm. (AP Photo/Carlos Giusti)
Rescue staff from the Municipal Emergency Management Agency investigate an empty flooded car during the passage of Hurricane Irma through the northeastern part of the island in Fajardo, Puerto Rico, Wednesday, Sept. 6, 2017. Hurricane Irma lashed Puerto Rico with heavy rain and powerful winds, leaving nearly 900,000 people without power as authorities struggled to get aid to small Caribbean islands already devastated by the historic storm. (AP Photo/Carlos Giusti)

Juan Negron, right, prepares to start up a power generator in front of whats left of his damaged property, after the passage of Hurricane Irma, in the island of Culebra, Puerto Rico, Thursday, Sept. 7, 2017. About a million people were without power in the U.S. territory after Irma passed just to the north, lashing the island with heavy wind and rain. Nearly 50,000 also were without water. (AP Photo/Carlos Giusti)
Juan Negron, right, prepares to start up a power generator in front of whats left of his damaged property, after the passage of Hurricane Irma, in the island of Culebra, Puerto Rico, Thursday, Sept. 7, 2017. About a million people were without power in the U.S. territory after Irma passed just to the north, lashing the island with heavy wind and rain. Nearly 50,000 also were without water. (AP Photo/Carlos Giusti)

FAJARDO, PUERTO RICO - SEPTEMBER 06: A street is flooded during the passing of Hurricane Irma on September 6, 2017 in Fajardo, Puerto Rico. The category 5 storm is expected to pass over Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands today, and make landfall in Florida by the weekend. (Photo by Jose Jimenez/Getty Images)
A street is flooded during the passing of Hurricane Irma on September 6, 2017 in Fajardo, Puerto Rico. (Photo by Jose Jimenez/Getty Images)

Rocks are scattered on a road in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma, in Fajardo, Puerto Rico, Thursday, Sept. 7, 2017. Irma cut a path of devastation across the northern Caribbean, leaving at least 10 dead and thousands homeless after destroying buildings and uprooting trees. More than 1 million people in Puerto Rico are without power. (AP Photo/Carlos Giusti)
Rocks are scattered on a road in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma, in Fajardo, Puerto Rico, Thursday, Sept. 7, 2017. Irma cut a path of devastation across the northern Caribbean, leaving at least 10 dead and thousands homeless after destroying buildings and uprooting trees. More than 1 million people in Puerto Rico are without power. (AP Photo/Carlos Giusti)

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This Sept. 6, 2017 photo shows storm damage in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma in St. Martin. Irma cut a path of devastation across the northern Caribbean, leaving thousands homeless after destroying buildings and uprooting trees. Significant damage was reported on the island known as St. Martin in English which is divided between French Saint-Martin and Dutch Sint Maarten. (Jonathan Falwell via AP)
This Sept. 6, 2017 photo shows storm damage in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma in St. Martin. Irma cut a path of devastation across the northern Caribbean, leaving thousands homeless after destroying buildings and uprooting trees. Significant damage was reported on the island known as St. Martin in English which is divided between French Saint-Martin and Dutch Sint Maarten. (Jonathan Falwell via AP)
This Sept. 6, 2017 photo shows storm damage in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma, in St. Martin. Irma cut a path of devastation across the northern Caribbean, leaving thousands homeless after destroying buildings and uprooting trees. Significant damage was reported on the island known as St. Martin in English which is divided between French Saint-Martin and Dutch Sint Maarten. (Jonathan Falwell via AP)
This Sept. 6, 2017 photo provided by the Dutch Defense Ministry shows storm damage in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma, in St. Maarten. Irma cut a path of devastation across the northern Caribbean, leaving thousands homeless after destroying buildings and uprooting trees. Significant damage was reported on the island that is split between French and Dutch control. (Gerben Van Es/Dutch Defense Ministry via AP)
This Sept. 6, 2017 photo shows storm damage in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma in St. Martin. Irma cut a path of devastation across the northern Caribbean, leaving thousands homeless after destroying buildings and uprooting trees. Significant damage was reported on the island known as St. Martin in English which is divided between French Saint-Martin and Dutch Sint Maarten. (Jonathan Falwell via AP)
A home is surrounded by debris brought in by Hurricane Irma in Nagua, Dominican Republic, Thursday, Sept. 7, 2017. Irma cut a path of devastation across the northern Caribbean, leaving thousands homeless after destroying buildings and uprooting trees. Irma flooded parts of the Dominican Republic when it roared by Thursday, just off the northern coast of the island it shares with Haiti. (AP Photo/Tatiana Fernandez)
This image made from video shows damage from Hurricane Irma in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, Thursday, Sept. 7, 2017. Hurricane Irma weakened slightly Thursday with sustained winds of 175 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center. The storm boasted 185 mph winds for a more than 24-hour period, making it the strongest storm ever recorded in the Atlantic Ocean. The storm was expected to arrive in Cuba by Friday. It could hit the Florida mainland by late Saturday, according to hurricane center models. (AP Photo/Ian Brown)
This image made from video shows flooding caused by Hurricane Irma on Charlotte Amalie, in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, Thursday, Sept. 7, 2017. Hurricane Irma weakened slightly Thursday with sustained winds of 175 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center. The storm boasted 185 mph winds for a more than 24-hour period, making it the strongest storm ever recorded in the Atlantic Ocean. The storm was expected to arrive in Cuba by Friday. It could hit the Florida mainland by late Saturday, according to hurricane center models. (AP Photo/Ian Brown)
In this Thursday, Sept. 7, 2017 photo, Juan Negron, right, prepares to start up a power generator in front of whats left of his damaged property, after the passage of Hurricane Irma, in the island of Culebra, Puerto Rico. About a million people were without power in the U.S. territory after Irma passed just to the north, lashing the island with heavy wind and rain. Nearly 50,000 also were without water. (AP Photo/Carlos Giusti)
In this Thursday, Sept. 7, 2017, photo, damage is left after Hurricane Irma hit Barbuda. Hurricane Irma battered the Turks and Caicos Islands early Friday as the fearsome Category 5 storm continued a rampage through the Caribbean that has killed a number of people, with Florida in its sights. (AP Photo/Anika E. Kentish)
In this Thursday, Sept. 7, 2017, photo, damage is left after Hurricane Irma hit Barbuda. Hurricane Irma battered the Turks and Caicos Islands early Friday as the fearsome Category 5 storm continued a rampage through the Caribbean that has killed a number of people, with Florida in its sights. (AP Photo/Anika E. Kentish)
Virginia Task Force 1 of Fairfax County, Virginia, is also stationed in Katy, Texas, (Courtesy Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service)
Virginia Task Force 1 of Fairfax County is working in the Kingwood, Texas, area Thursday. (Courtesy Fairfax County Fire and Rescue)
Virginia Task Force 1 of Fairfax County worked in the Kingwood, Texas, area Thursday. (Courtesy Fairfax County Fire and Rescue)
Virginia Task Force 1 was among the flat and swift water boat teams working around Kingwood, which is north of Houston. (Courtesy Fairfax County Fire and Rescue)
Members of Virginia Task Force 1 on Thursday prepare for a full day of operations in which people and pets were rescued. In some cases people were delivered back to flooded homes to retrieve medicine or important papers. (Courtesy Fairfax County Fire and Rescue)
In this Thursday, Sept. 7, 2017 photo, Juan Negron, right, prepares to start up a power generator in front of whats left of his damaged property, after the passage of Hurricane Irma, in the island of Culebra, Puerto Rico. About a million people were without power in the U.S. territory after Irma passed just to the north, lashing the island with heavy wind and rain. Nearly 50,000 also were without water. (AP Photo/Carlos Giusti)
Rescue staff from the Municipal Emergency Management Agency investigate an empty flooded car during the passage of Hurricane Irma through the northeastern part of the island in Fajardo, Puerto Rico, Wednesday, Sept. 6, 2017. Hurricane Irma lashed Puerto Rico with heavy rain and powerful winds, leaving nearly 900,000 people without power as authorities struggled to get aid to small Caribbean islands already devastated by the historic storm. (AP Photo/Carlos Giusti)
Juan Negron, right, prepares to start up a power generator in front of whats left of his damaged property, after the passage of Hurricane Irma, in the island of Culebra, Puerto Rico, Thursday, Sept. 7, 2017. About a million people were without power in the U.S. territory after Irma passed just to the north, lashing the island with heavy wind and rain. Nearly 50,000 also were without water. (AP Photo/Carlos Giusti)
FAJARDO, PUERTO RICO - SEPTEMBER 06: A street is flooded during the passing of Hurricane Irma on September 6, 2017 in Fajardo, Puerto Rico. The category 5 storm is expected to pass over Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands today, and make landfall in Florida by the weekend. (Photo by Jose Jimenez/Getty Images)
Rocks are scattered on a road in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma, in Fajardo, Puerto Rico, Thursday, Sept. 7, 2017. Irma cut a path of devastation across the northern Caribbean, leaving at least 10 dead and thousands homeless after destroying buildings and uprooting trees. More than 1 million people in Puerto Rico are without power. (AP Photo/Carlos Giusti)

WASHINGTON — Hurricane Irma is set to make landfall as a major hurricane in Florida Saturday evening, and local first responders are just outside of the region expected to take the biggest hit, ready to answer the call if needed.

About 80 members of Virginia Task Force One from Fairfax County, as well as a few specially trained hazardous materials responders from Montgomery County, are stationed at Robins Air Force Base near Macon, Georgia. The base, near where Interstates 75 and 16 meet, allows them direct access to interstates that run down into Florida as well as east to the Atlantic Coast.

“We’re prepared for anything ranging from structural collapse, to water rescues,” said Chuck Ryan, an assistant fire chief with Fairfax County Fire and Rescue, and also a member of Task Force One.

“This team has with it our water rescue assets: the boats, the trained personnel. In addition, part of the 80-person complement, and much of it is because of cross training of personnel, our structural collapse technicians and search and rescue specialists, who are trained in searching for victims in collapsed structures should that eventuality occur.”

Crews that specialize in “wide-area searches” are on hand, ready to comb through areas devastated by storm surge or high winds that leave piles of debris.

Ryan says about eight of the 80 people on hand also went to Houston to help with Hurricane Harvey.

“FEMA indicated that they might need the hazmat push pack, which is one of six in the country that is located here in Montgomery County,” said Montgomery County Fire and Rescue spokesman Pete Piringer.

That team was actually on the way home from Houston when FEMA redirected them to the same air base in Georgia.

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“I think they were at the Virginia-Tennessee border,” said Piringer. “They stood by there for a little while and then they were rerouted, initially to Alabama, and were since relocated to Robins Air Force Base.”

The rest of Maryland Task Force One is at home right now, but on standby for possible deployment.

Piringer says that group could be en route to any disaster site within about two or three hours. The crews are bracing for the possibility that they might respond to areas north of Florida that could be impacted by the storm.

However, Piringer cautions that right now, that’s only speculation.

In all, there are 28 specially trained Task Force squads nationwide.

Virginia Task Force Two, based in the Virginia Beach area, is currently stationed in Puerto Rico, where Hurricane Irma has already hit.

Neal Augenstein

Neal Augenstein has been a reporter at WTOP since 1997. Through the years, Neal has covered many of the crimes and trials that have gripped the region. Neal's been pleased to receive awards over the years for hard news, feature reporting, use of sound and sports.


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