PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — First responders from Pennsylvania and New Jersey are headed to Louisiana as the state recovers from Hurricane Ida. The storm hit the coast Sunday afternoon in Port Fourchon and has since weakened to a tropical storm. New Orleans experienced citywide power outages as the storm moved through.
Now, Pennsylvania and New Jersey have more than 120 people on the way to help. New Jersey’s task force consists of 45 team members, while Pennsylvania is sending an 80-person search and rescue team.READ MORE: 17-Year-Old Student Shot, Killed Near Bartram High School In Southwest Philadelphia, Police Say
It’s a 900-mile journey that some of these first responders have made before.
“To think that 16 years later, almost to the day, we would be responding to another hurricane is almost surreal – so no, I never thought I would be coming back down here,” Ivan Lopez told CBS3.
The 25-year Philadelphia Fire Department veteran has been to Louisiana twice. The first was when the lieutenant helped with Hurricane Katrina, the category five storm that decimated the state. The similarities aren’t lost on Lopez.READ MORE: Bucks County 911 Call Centers Suffering Staffing Shortages: 'It Has Been A National Problem For Many Years'
“Katrina was very big, and Hurricane Ida was — again, had a lot of power, a lot of heavy winds, so it made me think a lot about what we went through that last time and how much people had lost,” he told Eyewitness News.
Part of the trip includes sending water rescue equipment and many other tools to help those suffering.
The Southeastern Pennsylvania American Red Cross is also sending volunteers. Three people will leave once the airport in Louisiana opens up. The organization is prepared to send 20 volunteers.
However, the future path of Ida is also on organizers’ minds, said regional CEO Guy Triano.MORE NEWS: Man Arrested In New York For Deadly Shooting At Vineland Wawa
“We’re prepared to send as many as the need is, knowing also to be prepared back at home because some of those rains are gonna come up here,” he said. “We’ve already experienced a lot of flooding in this area and Wednesday into Thursday, we’re already preparing for flooding.”