First responders from around the country are currently in a holding pattern along the Atlantic, waiting to see where Hurricane Florence hits hardest.
They are part FEMA’s national disaster response plan, which has staging areas in Virginia, South Carolina and North Carolina.
Joe Edison and Mike Ferron of Ashtabula County are part of a team that is waiting at a Walmart outside Raleigh.
“This is just a pre-staging area,” said Ferron, a paramedic with Community Care Ambulance.
More than 100 ambulances are at each of the locations. Some come from as far as California and even serve as shelters for their crews.
“Right now, we’re you know spending the night in the ambulance,” said Edison, a paramedic with Jefferson Emergency Management District. “There is an old K-Mart that’s abandoned that they the state has taken over and put cots and stuff, so we might be able to move down there and stage there as well.”
The men add Georgia could soon see a staging site too.
“They [FEMA] choose the location we show up at first, like this staging area, and then they refer to the state of what the state’s need is and that’s where we go,” Ferron said. “When they start getting work assignments, then we go to the areas where the work assignments are.”
The men say responding to something of this scale can even help with their jobs when they return. They plan to be deployed up to two weeks.
Florence marks Ferron's third hurricane response and Edison's first.