The rest of Ohio Task Force 1 returned tonight after spending two weeks in North Carolina assisting with recovery efforts after Hurricane Florence.
The 16-member water rescue team says its the bulk of its assignment came in the days after the storm, when unrelenting rain led to massive flooding.
Because so many people chose to ride out the storm, the task force had to check on residents, and when necessary, rescue people and pets.
“I think a lot of us are really excited to get home,” said Jack Reall, task force leader. “Until the last two days, we spent every day in the field, in the heat, with the bugs and the cots.”
It’s a difficult job, but one this team is proud to do.
“The long-term of this event, from landfall to still now, it wears on teams, local responders. So, the fact that we had teams from all over the country there that are meant to be there for longer term — we’re on day 14 — It’s a long time, but that’s what we’re designed for," Reall said.
This group is the second to return from an area about an hour south of Raleigh.
But unlike previous hurricanes to which they’ve deployed, the greatest impact was not immediate.
“Normally, the hurricane comes in, you get the rain flooding, the aerial flooding, and the river flooding’s pretty immediate. This took days for the river flooding to reach where we were,” he said.
“There was a lot of flooding,” said Neil Patnaude of the Dayton FIre Department and task force member.
He also responded to Hurricane Matthew, and said he believes local and state officials in North Carolina were extremely well prepared. But Patnaude said it’s not over for people living in affected areas.
“There’s going to be a lot of cleanup for them in the weeks and months to come,” he said.
Two 16-member water rescue teams, plus three additional support personnel were deployed in Hurricane Florence response efforts on the East Coast.
“Final numbers are not reported yet, but both teams provided evacuations and rescues of people trapped by flood waters, pet and animal evacuations, and well-being checks on people sheltering in-place,” the team said in a statement.
Hurricane Florence hit the North Carolina coast last week causing significant flooding in the region as well multiple deaths.
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