HOLLY, Mich. (WJBK) - Michigan Task Force One is sending a search-and-rescue team to help first responders in the devastation of Hurricane Irma.
The monster storm, which arrived in Florida as a Category 4 hurricane, has toppled at least three constructions cranes - two over downtown Miami and one in Fort Lauderdale.
Nearly 4.5 million homes and businesses across Florida lost power, and utility officials said it will take weeks to restore electricity to everyone. More than 100,000 were in the dark in Georgia.
"This is what we've been training for; this is what we have been preparing for for a long time, and we're super excited about going down there," says program director, Dave McIntyre.
No deaths in Florida were immediately linked to the storm. In the Caribbean, at least 24 were people were killed during Irma's destructive trek across exclusive islands known as the vacation playground for the rich.
The 45 team members include fire crews from St. Clair Shores, Sterling Heights and Livonia, as well as Grand Rapids, east Lansing and other places across the state. They left from Holly, Mich. on Sunday. They say they know what to expect.
"Our personnell are trained, they're able and they're going to go down and really help residents with Hurricane Irma and the effects it's having on the residents of Florida," McIntyre says.
They're going to the tampa area for what will be at least an 11-day mission. They drove 12 hours on Sunday to Tennessee before finishing their trip to Florida. The first responders want people in Florida to know Michigan is here to help.
"There's a lot of help on the way and we're anxious to get down there and help you. It's hard for us to be patient as well, trust me, through all of this," says Shadd Whitehead, commander for this deployment.
"In Florida, they're going to see what Michigan's all about," says task force leader Chris Smith.
As of Monday morning, Irma has been downgraded to a tropical storm, but it still had winds near hurricane force as it hovers over Florida. Its outer bands were also blowing into Georgia, where the storm's center was expected to arrive later in the day.