Members from Massachusetts Task Force 1 have packed their bags and are on their way to the south to help with relief efforts during Hurricane Ida, which made landfall Sunday in Louisiana as a Category 4 storm with winds of 150 miles per hour -- one of the strongest storms to hit the region since Hurricane Katrina.
A total of 80 volunteers -- including firefighters, police, medics and dog handlers from across New England -- were called by FEMA to help Louisiana with rescue and recovery efforts as the powerful storm moved in.
The crew loaded their trailers with boats, rescue gear and everything they need to be self sustained. The last convoy left the Beverly training base Sunday evening.
Ida’s landfall came on the same date Hurricane Katrina ravaged Louisiana and Mississippi 16 years earlier, and some of the task force members that spoke to NBC10 Boston on Sunday said this is reminiscent of Hurricane Katrina.
The task force said they've been deployed to that region multiple times since, but no other storm has compared to Katrina until now.
"This is probably going to be the most significant event to respond to in Louisiana since Katrina," task force leader Sean Brown said.
"With a hurricane of this magnitude it's expected there will be a lot of damaged structures. Typically, part of the operation will be to get in to all of those structures and make sure that they're clear," said Massachusetts Task Force One spokesman Tom Gatzunis. "We all pray that our services will never be needed but when they are needed, every one of us wants to be the first person to be able to deploy and go out the door and help others."
Gatzunis said they will be deployed for 14 days, depending on the needs on the ground. They are expected to drive nonstop for 24 hours and should arrive in Baton Rouge by Monday night.
Meanwhile, the American Red Cross of Massachusetts is also sending volunteers to help anyone impacted by the storm. The nonprofit sent an emergency response vehicle to Louisiana with two volunteers making the 22-hour trip.
Julie Kraus and Frank Murphy will join other Red Cross volunteers from across the country to work with local nonprofits to distribute hot meals and cleaning supplies to people in need.
The Red Cross says volunteers will be there for roughly two weeks and then they'll be relieved by new volunteers. The organization says they could be in the Gulf Coast for months.
At least 619,000 customers were already without power Sunday after nightfall, according to PowerOutage.US, which tracks outages nationwide. With millions expected, Eversource is also sending crews south to support what is expected to be a major power restoration effort.
Approximately 40 Eversource line crews from Connecticut, Massachusetts and New Hampshire and support personnel will be heading south to assist Entergy Louisiana with restoration. The convoy of line workers and support personnel, equipment and trucks will begin their trip to Louisiana on Monday morning.