PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — Two local Hampton Roads agencies have deployed to the Gulf Coast ahead of Hurricane Ida’s landfall on Sunday.
Hurricane Ida, currently a category 2 storm, is expected to strengthen into a category four hurricane before landfall — making it “an extremely dangerous major hurricane,” the NHC said.
The two local agencies, Operation Blessing and Virginia Task Force 2, are on their way to the area to assist with recovery efforts.
35 Virginia Task Force 2 members departed the Harry E. Diezel Virginia Beach Fire Training Center just before 10 p.m. Friday night, according to the Virginia Beach Fire Department.
A video shared by the department showed numerous tractor-trailers, a van, a bus, trailers, rescue boats, gators, and other equipment leaving the parking lot over the course of about three minutes.
Operation Blessing, a local nonprofit humanitarian organization, will leave early Sunday morning. They are pre-staging in Tennessee on Saturday before going directly into the hardest-hit communities after the storm passes.
As part of their efforts, Operation Blessing is bringing a mobile kitchen and construction trailer.
Dan Moore, Director of Church Partnerships and Ministry support, says they’ll also have a trailer of non-perishable foods to distribute.
“About close to a dozen people that are on standby right now to physically be in the zone sooner than anybody else, but in parallel, we’ll have staff flying in and more equipment to come right in behind,” he said.
Operation Blessing has also pre-deployed truckloads of drinking water to relief partners in Mandeville, LA and Cleveland, TX. Additional supplies will be deployed as needed after the storm.
Ida is expected to make landfall 16 years, to the date, when Hurricane Katrina made a second landfall in the region.
“That’s the anniversary, unfortunately, of Hurricane Katrina and Operation Blessing had a huge impact,” said Moore. “Louisiana and those that have been impacted with Hurricane Katrina, I was there and served for Operation Blessing down there, they’re near and dear to our hearts. And so, we’re just standing ready to serve these people and let them know that they’re not alone.”
Learn more about Operation Blessing here.