ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — A set of heavy lift helicopters and 11 National Guard members departed from the Frederick Douglas Rochester Airport to assist in the Florida hurricane response.

Gov. Kathy Hochul requested their deployment Wednesday morning, according to officials. The 11 service members on board consist of aircrew and maintenance personnel.

Their mission? To strengthen the Florida National Guard and provide airlift support.

“As Hurricane Ian hits the Florida coast, I join all New Yorkers in praying for the safety and well-being of every individual who will be impacted by this terrifying storm,” Gov. Hochul said. 

“We are grateful for the heroism of these New Yorkers who are answering the call of duty, as well as for the extraordinary efforts of all first responders currently working to provide aid and support to the people of Florida,” Gov. Hochul said. “New York will always stand up and help our neighbors in a time of need.” 

According to officials, the aircraft is capable of carrying 36 people, or over 46,000 pounds of cargo, and fly at 190 miles per hour. The same type of helicopter was previously sent to Florida in October 2018 to assist in the recovery effort of Hurricane Michael.

Hurricane Ian caused “catastrophic damage” upon its contact with land in Naples, Florida Wednesday. What was previously a Category 4 hurricane with 155 mph windspeeds was downgraded to a tropical storm early Thursday morning as it moves up north.