By Alyssa Schnugg
As Hurricane Ian spins in the Gulf toward Florida, local first responders and utility workers are ready to head to Florida if they’re needed.
Hurricane Ian, now a Category 3 storm, continues to strengthen. It’s expected to slam into the west coast of Florida Wednesday night.
The storm is expected to bring high winds and heavy rain that could cause widespread power outages and flooding.
The hurricane’s path is very similar to that of Hurricane Charley that hit the west coast of Florida in 2004. Tens of thousands of people were without power for several days, some for weeks.
While Florida officials have not yet officially called out to other states for help, firefighters and utility workers stand ready to respond.
Lafayette County and Oxford fire departments have members that are a part of the Mississippi Task Force which is made up of first responders who travel around Mississippi or to other parts of the county that are severely affected by natural and man-made disasters.
“At this time Florida has not requested any assistance,” said LCFD Capt. Beau Moore. “Florida has activated all of its in-state task force. We are ready to respond if Florida requests.”
The North East Mississippi Electric Power Association has been contacted to see if it would be able to send help if needed.
“We are prepared to respond if officially requested,” said Sarah Brooke Bishop, communications and marketing manager for NEMEPA.
Rob Neely, general manager of Oxford Utilities said his department has sent crews in the past to storm-damaged areas and they are willing to help as well.
“At this point, we are in a wait-and-see mode,” he said Tuesday.