LAFAYETTE, LA — Ohio Task Force 1 has returned home after working in the New Orleans area since Aug. 28.
As part of their Hurricane Ida response, OHTF1′s team of 45 men and women performed several days of work on damage assessment and community size-ups, which help with rebuilding and recovery efforts.
As they returned this evening, Task Force leaders told News Center 7′s Michael Gordon that it was another job well done.
“We accomplished what we set out for,” Jeffrey Newman, Task Force Leader, said.
Ohio Task Force 1 arrived in Lafayette, Louisiana on Aug. 28 before being moved to Jefferson Parish, which includes New Orleans, and then Kenner, LA. They were re-assigned to the Baton Rouge, Louisiana area up to the Mississippi border to perform wide-area searches last Wednesday.
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While many Task Force members have already worked in Louisiana, Rescue Team Manager Brett Beach said they were impressed by the resilience of the people.
“I have been to Louisiana a bunch of times. The people are always super nice and we were in a very rural parish outside of New Orleans, and people are still trying to hand us water as we hand them water,” Beach said.
OHTF1 performed wide-area searches, identifying and assisting lost or trapped people. OHTF1 gave detailed assessments of the community’s needs back to local and national authorities.
Newman told News Center 7 that their job providing assistance helps the community “start the rebuilding process sooner.”
Now, team members are home and have time to rest and relax while still keeping their senses and skills sharp for the next mission.
Ohio Task Force 1 arrived in Louisiana on Aug. 28 to prepare for rescue and recovery efforts during and after Hurricane Ida’s landfall.
The team’s mission has taken them to Jefferson Parish, which is included in the Greater New Orleans area.
FEMA moved the urban search and rescue team there this morning alongside three other task force teams from Indiana, Missouri, and Colorado.
Evan Schumann, program manager for Ohio Task Force 1, said power is out in much of the area, which is limiting communication with the task force leader (TFL).
“Right now, I’m texting with the TFL, but we have satellite capability if texting ceases to exist,” Schumann said.
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One of the most recent text messages Schumann received was that the team expected to be busy.
“We’ll be sending out all boats to people stuck in attics in some of the areas that are flooded. So it looks like Ohio and other teams will be doing boat rescues when they arrived in the impacted area,” Schumann said.
Last year, this same area was affected by at least two different hurricanes.16 years ago, this part of Louisiana was devastated by Hurricane Katrina.
The team will work to help those in need while doing their best to stay healthy amid a global pandemic.
All 45 members of the task force were tested for COVID-19 before they left and must now stay within their own team unit.
“All of those people are assigned to their own vehicle. when they’re in a tent - they are in the same tent. when they eat they all have to generally sit at the same table. it’s called modulus one, and it’s a way to minimize the exposure even with the 45 people on the team,” Schumann said.
In addition, FEMA requires all team members wear N95 masks, except when eating and sleeping.
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