FORT LEE, Va. -- Nearly 100 emergency crews staged at Fort Lee are on standby from FEMA as the impacts of Hurricane Florence are beginning to be felt along the East Coast.
As of Thursday afternoon, the crews do not yet know where they will be deployed, but said they are ready to respond to the hardest hit areas.
Officials are preparing for the worst as forecasters predict Hurricane Florence will cause catastrophic damage in North and South Carolina.
Hollie Martin, the U.S. Army Garrison Commander at Fort Lee, said crews at the Army base are on standby.
“One hundred and five ambulances that we stage as part of the request of support for the Hurricane Florence relief efforts,” Martin said.
With dozens of paramedics and EMTs on standby, officials said they are prepared for the worst with enough supplies to last up to 72 hours.
“We brought coolers with food, lots of emergency medical supplies that we brought from home," said Sarah Bonhan, a paramedic from Greenfield, Indiana.
James Harrison, an EMT from Joplin , Missouri said crews are equipped with rain gear, rescue ropes as well as life jackets.
Families and visitors in the storm's path have been warned to leave their coastal homes, but some people have decided to stay despite the mandatory evacuations.
“We do have to sometimes maneuver through some floodwaters," Harrison said. "We take our time and we make sure the street hasn’t washed away.”
Now it’s the calm before the storm and all they can do is wait for the call and be prepared.
“We’re not out of our element," Harrison said. "We do this every day, so that this chaos that everybody talks about on the news -- it’s controlled chaos for us, because we do it every day.”
Many members of the crews said one of the biggest things they do before the storm is to prepare emotionally and physically for the experience.