With Hurricane Idelia churning in the Gulf of Mexico, more than 20 of Team Rubicon’s disaster response volunteers—or Greyshirts—were hunkered down in Albany and Valdosta, GA; Shreveport, LA; and Cedar Key and Tallahassee, FL, waiting for the storm to make landfall.
By 5 p.m. EDT on Tuesday, August 29, the National Hurricane Center had upgraded Hurricane Idalia to a Category 2 Hurricane and predicted it would continue to increase in strength and severity, likely becoming a Category 3 Hurricane by the time it comes ashore in the early morning of August 30, 2023. Those warnings contained predictions of life-threatening storm surge and hurricane conditions along portions of the Gulf Coast of Florida the night of Tuesday, August 29, and into the morning of Wednesday, August 30. The NHC forecast Idalia’s center would reach the Big Bend coast of Florida on Wednesday morning and expected that, after landfall, the center of Idalia would turn toward the northeast and east, then move near or along the coasts of Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina late Wednesday and Thursday.
If Hurricane Idalia comes ashore as a Category 2 Hurricane, it will bring with it maximum sustained wind speeds of 96 to 110 mph that will snap trees and uproot shallowly-rooted trees, leading to numerous blocked roadways. If Hurricane Idalia comes ashore as a Category 3 Hurricane, it will likely bring with it devastating damage, including major damage to homes and roofs. Many trees will be snapped or uprooted, causing widespread road blockage, and the electrical grid and water supply will likely be damaged.
That road blockage is why the first teams to deploy to the damaged areas after the hurricane exits will be route clearance teams comprising sawyers and heavy equipment operators. The route clearance teams will be tasked with opening up roadways for first responders and more.
Team Rubicon chose to stage its Route Clearance Teams in Georgia and Louisiana not only for their proximity to Florida disaster zones but also with the awareness that, as Hurricane Idalia exits the coastline, it could cause massive flooding and damage to portions of Georgia and South Carolina, too. In addition to the two RCTs, the disaster relief staged recon teams in Valdosta and Tallahassee, and in Cedar Key, which is expected to bear the brunt of the hurricane’s eyewall. Once the hurricane exits those areas, the recon teams will set out to assess the damaged areas to determine how much unmet need exists and where and how Greyshirts will be deployed to assist homeowners with hurricane recovery.