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Ohio Task Force 1 is home again, ending Hurricane Matthew deployment

Published: Thursday, October 06, 2016 @ 11:38 PM
Updated: Thursday, October 13, 2016 @ 12:44 AM

Ohio Task Force 1 back in Ohio

UPDATE @ 10:30 p.m. (Oct. 12): Ohio Task Force 1, its six-day deployment prompted by Hurricane Matthew now a completed mission, returned Wednesday afternoon to home base on Wilmington Pike in Kettering with a sense of accomplishment and the ever-present sense of a call to duty.

“This is the most rewarding experience I have had personally since the World Trade Center and I know it’s impacted a lot of the other guys the same way,” task force leader Doug Cope told News Center 7’s Natalie Jovonovich.

“Most of the hurricanes have been wide area searches on land because until just recently, we didn’t have watercraft in our system,” Cope said when asked what set this mission to the southeastern United States apart from others. “So they put a mechanism in place for us to get the watercraft to train on it and we proved that it worked.”

News Center 7 reporter/anchor Gabrielle Enright and photographer Chuck Hamlin were embedded with the team to record Cope and the 83 members of the task force, in a 15-vehicle convoy rescue 100 people and more than two-dozen animals in the areas of Fayetteville and Lumberton, N.C.

In Lumberton, the team that included six search dogs, three semitrailers, three box trucks, the team bus, four rescue boats and several other support vehicles was deployed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency to a levee break where an estimated 1,500 people were reported stranded.

The team worked nonstop in the area of Fayetteville, rescuing at least 24 people, family pets and a dozen head of cattle.

There, task force members Mike Lutz and Andrew Herbert, who are Cincinnati firefighters, were part of the rescue of a family of four trapped in their flooded home for several hours.

“We swung around, trying to get through the current, and we see someone beating on the window of a house … We couldn’t go to where they were at because we would have been pinned against the house,” Lutz said.

Lutz and Herbert maneuvered the boat toward the rear of the house, where the water was moving slower. Herbert broke a window to get in. He found three people in their 20s and a woman in her 60s. They were cold and had been in the house for about seven hours. The older woman could not walk and the rescuers had to lift her through the window to get her in the boat.

“Those people were in a very bad situation that we helped them get away from,” Herbert said.

Lutz said it was a complicated rescue, his first swift-water rescue in a flooded environment.

“It’s a good feeling,” he said. “At least we were able to come down here and do what we’re supposed to do so it was nice,” he said.

FEMA initially assigned the task force and 10 other rescue groups to Lakeland, Fla. Reassignment orders sent the team to Columbia, S.C., to Savannah, Ga., then to Charlotte, N.C., and finally to Fayetteville and Lumberton.

Wednesday evening, Jeff Turner, a hazmat specialist with the task force, said, “It was a wonderful experience to be able to help these people and see the smile on their faces when we were helping them.”

FIRST REPORT (Oct. 6): News Center 7’s Gabrielle Enright and photographer Chuck Hamlin are embedded with the team and will be the news team in the Miami Valley bringing you exclusive reports from the devastation.

The team of 80 members from Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana left around midnight Friday from the Dayton-Kettering area. 

The 14-vehicle caravan of trucks and equipment — complete with an Ohio Highway Patrol escort at least through Tennessee — is to arrive in Florida by 5 p.m.

As the caravan pulled out, Ohio Task Force 1 posted the following to its Facebook page:

“The state of Florida has made a request for federal US&R [Urban Search & Rescue] assistance beyond the initial assignment of the two Virginias and Maryland. Accordingly, the US&R branch activated the following at the request of Region IV:

Tennessee TF1, Ohio TF1, Pennsylvania TF1, Indiana TF1, New Jersey TF1, New York TF1, and Missouri TF1. Task Forces have been directed to preliminary staging locations in Georgia or Florida pending potential assignment to SC, GA or FL.

OH-TF1 is deploying as a Type I US&R task force, and will travel by ground to their assigned staging area to await the hurricane’s movement through and out of the region.”

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Miami Valley looks for ways to beat the heat

Published: Monday, June 18, 2018 @ 11:55 AM

The Miami Valley is under a Heat Advisory until 8 p.m. Monday. 

With a heat index of 100 degrees outside, it's making any prolonged work outdoors dangerous. 

Little ones and their families at Orchardly Park were staying cool by staying in the water Monday and also remaining hydrated.

LOCAL: First Heat Wave of 2018?

But some people weren't playing in the sun. They were working and working to keep cool. 

Tree trimmers were in Riverside Monday morning, cutting down limbs around the Valley Worship Center on Valley Pike. 

Trimmers started the work at 9 a.m. and planned to be there for five to six hours. 

"We've been working for about an hour and a half now and I'm already hot," said Josh Patterson, tree trimmer for Tackett Tree & Shrub Service. 

Patterson said he's never experienced heat exhaustion on the job. 

"I've been doing it so long, you just get used to it." 

Thankfully, their bosses have seen to it that their coolers are overflowing. They filled coolers with ice and drinks to keep their core temperatures down. 

LOCAL:  1 killed in crash on Halderman Road, Preble County; OSP investigating

But in the ER at Kettering Medical Center, this time of year doctors see an influx of patients suffering from the sun. 

"We see everything from heat-related cramps so severe you can have abdominal pain, cramping, sometimes you'll have severe nausea and diarrhea," said Dr. Nancy Pook, medical director of Kettering Medical Center Emergency Department. "It doesn't make sense right, but when you're body is shutting down sometimes different people act differently." 

Kettering lacrosse players were practicing in the heat from 8 to 11 a.m. Monday. 

Dr. Pook said they're fine as long as they take plenty of water breaks in the shade. 

But in this heat, she said it's better to get all outdoor work done in the coolest parts of the day, either early morning or late evening. 

"People with respiratory problems out in the heat really get into trouble with difficulty breathing," said Dr. Pook. "We watch out for our cardiac patients because lots of them are on diuretics, so pills that decrease their fluids inside anyway." 

Kids under the age of 4 are also at risk because their bodies can't properly regulate their temperature yet. 

Parents at Orchardly Park's splash pad had the right idea, keeping their children in the cool water. 

LOCAL: Heat and Air Pollution Advisory into the evening

The workers at Tackett Tree & Shrub Service said they're going to have to focus on getting their job done as quickly as possible. 

"A lot of times if it's too hot we'll hurry up and finish that job, move on for the day and go home," said Patterson. "But nine times out of 10, you just try to stay positive and push through." 

Dr. Pook also said that you want to take breaks in air conditioning, as you can bring your core body temperature down.

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Troopers ID woman killed in Preble County crash

Published: Monday, June 18, 2018 @ 4:53 PM
Updated: Monday, June 18, 2018 @ 6:15 PM

Person killed in Preble County crash

UPDATE @ 6:15 p.m.: The woman killed in a single-vehicle crash in the 6000 block of Halderman Road has been identified as 29-year-old Megan Harris of Indiana, Sgt. Frank Simmons of the Ohio State Highway Patrol’s Dayton Post said.

“Upon arriving on scene we saw a red Chrysler Pacifica that apparently had gone off the right side of the roadway, over-corrected and went off the left side of the roadway, striking a tree almost splitting the car into two pieces,” Simmons said.


Speed is definitely a factor, but drugs and alcohol are not suspected, he said.

>> Motorcyclist ID’d in fatal Butler Twp. crash

“Based on our evidence collection and the visual inspection of the vehicle, the damages sustained, she was traveling at a high rate of speed.”

UPDATE @ 5:30 p.m.: Troopers with the state patrol are continuing their investigation of the fatal, single-vehicle accident in the 6000 block of Halderman Road. 

Halderman will be shut down in both directions until further notice.


A crash in the area of Twin Creek and Halderman roads, south of West Alexandria, involves a fatality, according to the Ohio State Highway Patrol.

The crash was reported around 4:20 p.m.

According to initial reports, a vehicle crashed into a ditch in the area, the patrol said.

Got a tip? Call our monitored 24-hour line, 937-259-2237, or send it to

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SICSA breaking ground this fall on $5 million Washington Twp. location

Published: Monday, June 18, 2018 @ 4:58 PM
Updated: Monday, June 18, 2018 @ 4:58 PM

            The SICSA Pet Adoption Center plans a big expansion in Washington Twp. A rendering of the planned facility that will break ground later this year is shown.
The SICSA Pet Adoption Center plans a big expansion in Washington Twp. A rendering of the planned facility that will break ground later this year is shown.(CONTRIBUTED)

The Society for the Improvement of Conditions for Stray Animals (SICSA) is looking to break ground later this year and start construction in 2019 on a $5 million new facility in Washington Twp.

SICSA is a non-profit pet adoption center and animal shelter, that has rescued and adopted more than 7,500 animals through the years. The shelter has been part of the Miami Valley since 1974. SICSA has performed more than 6,900 spays and neuters during the last three years.

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The organization is working with the township board of trustees to open a 27,000 square-foot building, proposed on Washington Church Road, north of Lyons Road and overlooking Interstate 675. Trustees approved the plans for the new facility last year, after the adoption center raised nearly 50 percent of the $5 million needed for the development.

Township Development Director Ryan Lee said the board of trustees has approved the final development plan for the proposed location and SICSA. Township trustees approved the preliminary plans last year.

“We are excited to see this property developed and to welcome SICSA to the Washington Township community,” Lee said.

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The facility will house a total of 73 kennels and space for about 100 cats and would be soundproof to protect both the animals and nearby residents.

The agency’s current location, 2600 Wilmington Pike in Kettering, is expected to remain open, according to agency officials, who added that September is the target for the groundbreaking of the new Washington Twp. location.

Nora Vondrell, executive director of SICSA, said the organization currently has 700-800 volunteers. With the addition of the new center, she said “significantly more volunteers will be needed to support both sites.”

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SICSA is a “no kill” facility. In 2016, the center had 1,654 adoptions and just more than 26,000 volunteer hours, according to its website.

According to Vondrell, in Montgomery County, 48 percent of all stray animals are euthanized. About six years ago, the rate was around 65 percent.

SICSA also helps reduce the number of euthanized animals by taking some in from the Montgomery County Animal Resource Center.

Here are five things to know about the SICSA adoption center:

1. SICSA stands for The Society for the Improvement of Conditions for Stray Animals. The adoption and animal shelter has rescued and adopted more than 7,500 animals through the years.

2. The shelter has been part of the Miami Valley for 43 years, beginning in 1974.

3. SICSA is a “no kill” facility.

4. In 2016, the center had 1,654 adoptions and just more than 26,000 volunteer hours, according to its website.

5. The location for the proposed new 20,000-square-foot building is on Washington Church Road, north of Lyons Road overlooking Interstate 675.

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Humid air puts region at risk for potential flash-flooding

Published: Monday, June 18, 2018 @ 1:30 PM
Updated: Monday, June 18, 2018 @ 1:30 PM

The extremely muggy conditions across the Ohio Valley could help contribute to locally heavy rain that may lead to flash flooding over the next few days. A very slow-moving front will slide into the Miami Valley Tuesday and linger into midweek, providing the focus for showers and storms. The humid ...

The summer equinox is upon us, but it appears the hazy, hot and humid weather arrived early. Temperatures soared over the weekend into the 90s as the first heat-wave of the year arrived in time for Father’s Day.

An official heat wave occurs when temperatures soar to 90 degrees or higher for at least three days in a row.

RELATED: Heat advisory in effect today

The Weather Prediction Center has placed much of the Miami Valley in a risk zone for flash flooding through the first half of this week.

As temperatures have climbed, so has the amount of moisture in the air. With the increase in humidity, it becomes quite uncomfortable to go outside for any long periods of time, especially late in the afternoon or early evening. The reason for this is because with more moisture in the air, the moisture your body produces to help you cool doesn’t readily evaporate.

Without that evaporation, your body will sweat easily, making you feel even more uncomfortable. After an extended period of time, serious heat related illnesses such as heat exhaustion or heat stroke.

The good news is as we head through the week, the heat will begin to ease a bit. Temperatures are forecast to drop out of the 90s and hold in the 80s for the next few days. Unfortunately, there will be very little relief in the humidity which will likely lead to a few issues. First, the humid conditions will increase the amount of mold spores in the air. This, in turn, can cause allergic reactions. Also, mosquitoes have been on the increase. Warm and muggy evenings are a favored environment for these pesky insects.

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The biggest concern with the humid air may become the threat for heavy rainfall and an increased potential for flash flooding.

A very slow-moving frontal boundary will be sliding southward across the Miami Valley through the middle of the week. As it does, showers and storms will become more and more widespread across the area. These storms will have plenty of tropical moisture to work with, meaning rainfall rates from storms could become quite high. It is the type of environment that is forecast this week where flash flooding can become an issue. We saw similar flooding happen on June 8 which led to the closure of U.S. 35 of Dayton’s west side.

While forecasting exactly where flash flooding will occur is nearly impossible, this is a good reminder if you are traveling and you drive into an area with extremely heavy rainfall, slow down! Also, be sure you turn your headlights on to help with visibility when driving through rain.

>> How to prevent heat-related and life-threatening illnesses during extreme heat

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You will also want to allow an extra 1 to 2 seconds of following time from other cars during heavy rain, just to give you some additional stopping distance if needed. Even if you don’t hydroplane, the cars around you could, so give yourself some space. Interestingly enough, Ohio law says the use of hazard lights on a moving vehicle is illegal except in unfavorable atmosphere conditions. I guess that means it is up to the law enforcement official what “unfavorable” would be. But I would think making yourself as visible as possible when visibility drops would be a good idea. Just remember though if you do you hazard lights, you still must turn them off to signal for turns and lane changes.

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