Members of the California Air National Guard departed for the East Coast late Thursday night to help Hurricane Florence rescue efforts.
The 129th Rescue Wing loaded up their gear and took off from Moffett Field in Mountain View, headed into the eye of the storm that thousands fled from the past two days.
The unit is specially trained in rescuing people by helicopter, whether they’re on the ground or in water.
"Unfortunately, if everyone doesn’t get out, we may see people on roofs with help signs and things like that," Major Ben Copley said. "The goal is to get as close as possible and be ready to go."
Florence was downgraded to a Category 1 late Thursday night but is expected to linger, meandering along the South Atlantic Coast for 36-48 hours, officials said.
The citizen airmen were also deployed last year to Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.