Hurricane Ida strikes Louisiana; New Orleans hunkers down (copy)

A news crew reports Sunday on the edge of Lake Pontchartrain in New Orleans ahead of approaching Hurricane Ida.

Three area firefighters and one retried one are among 80 who have been deployed to Louisiana to help urban search and rescue efforts in communities affected by Hurricane Ida.

Foxboro firefighter-paramedic Cory Shepardson, North Attleboro firefighter-EMT John Cooper and Mansfield firefighter-EMT Gerry McNamara are members of Massachusetts Task Force 1.

Also deployed with the task force is retired Mansfield firefighter Bruce Naslund.

The Beverly-based group left Sunday night after having about six hours to prepare for their trip.

The task force is comprised of doctors, paramedics and K-9s. They are part of the task force squad that will help Louisiana first responders in some of the toughest rescue missions.

They respond to major disasters under a contract with the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Currently, there are 150 members of the MA-TF 1 team.

“It’s a really great team,” said North Attleboro Fire Chief Chris Coleman, who is a member of the task force. “It’s an asset that’s provided to communities in a time of need.”

The task force is trained in swift water rescue, providing medical assistance, handling hazardous materials and communications.

Shepardson is a medical specialist, Cooper is a communications specialist and McNamara is a rescue specialist.

The deployment is scheduled for two weeks but could end sooner depending on what FEMA determines is needed for the area.

Rescuers set out in hundreds of boats and helicopters to reach people trapped by floodwaters Monday, and utility repair crews rushed in, after a furious Hurricane Ida swamped the Louisiana coast and ravaged the electrical grid in the sticky, late-summer heat, the Associated Press reported.

People living amid the maze of rivers and bayous along the state’s Gulf Coast retreated desperately to their attics or roofs and posted their addresses on social media with instructions for search-and-rescue teams on where to find them, according to AP.

More than 1 million customers in Louisiana and Mississippi — including all of New Orleans — were left without power as Ida, one of the most powerful hurricanes ever to hit the U.S. mainland, pushed through on Sunday and early Monday before weakening into a tropical storm, AP reported.

As it continued to make its way inland with torrential rain and shrieking winds, it was blamed for at least two deaths — a motorist who drowned in New Orleans, and a person hit by a falling tree outside Baton Rouge, AP reported.

The hurricane blew ashore on the 16th anniversary of Katrina, the 2005 storm that breached New Orleans’ levees, devastated the city and was blamed for 1,800 deaths.

Last year, the firefighters and the task force were deployed to Oregon to help communities devastated by massive Western wildfires that burned about five million acres in Oregon, California and Washington.

The task force did not directly fight the fires. However, they surveyed the damage to homes, businesses and infrastructure and helped communities that were burned down get back up and running.

David Linton may be reached at 508-236-0338.