Mississippi swift water rescue team arrives in Pulaski County

PULASKI COUNTY, Va. (WDBJ) Ahead of hurricane Florence, swift water rescue crews from Mississippi are setting up at Claytor Lake.

The state park closed earlier this week to guests, but became the perfect staging area for these first responders.

"We're looking at assisting with flash flooded areas," Task Force 1 leader, Chris Olson said. "It's very mountainous in the area and all the valleys and gorges that come through."

To prepare, they're monitoring the weather and making sure all the equipment is ready to go.

"Part of our swift water rescue team is our boats," Olson said. "We have hard bottom boats and inflatable boats."

They're also working on keeping their skills sharp and learning their way around our hometowns.

"They want to see which is the best areas in travel and you know, thoroughfares for them to navigate there quickly," Chad Bryant with the task force said.

Not only does the team have professional experience with hurricanes, they also have personal experience

"We've been there. We went through Katrina," Bryant said. "It means a lot to be able to come back and return the favor."

Though they hope their skills aren't needed in our area, they're ready help wherever they're called.

"That compassion that they do that drives them to do the training, do the ability to get to the level they are," Olson said. "And then when they do have that training ability, they want to come help and they want to be there to assist and to save lives."

The task force also gave some practical tips if you should find yourself caught in a flash flood. They said first try to get to high ground. Second, find something sturdy to cling to. And then third figure out a way to signal your location.