After an exhausting but rewarding 15 days working in hurricane ravaged North Carolina, 16 members of Massachusetts Task Force 1 Urban Search and Rescue team operating as a Swift Water Mission Ready Package have returned home. “We could not stop the destruction, Hurricane Florence reigned upon the homes and businesses, but we worked hard to save the lives of those trapped by rising waters” said Robert Better, Task Force Leader. While Florence was dumping torrential rain and swirling gale force winds during the height of the storm, Task Force Members operating Zodiac and Jon boats were evacuating people and their pets from houses.
One young boy was excited about his first boat ride, while others were relieved to be safe while they watch their homes become submerged in the distance. Traversing seven towns throughout the state, members conducted evacuations, target searches and swift water rescues as waters continued to rise weeks after the storm. Squad Officer Ray Phillips watched his team navigate multiple challenges from night operations to dangerous obstacles in the water.
Throughout the deployment, Task Force members were touched by the strength and hospitality of the citizens of the Carolinas who, even during a tragic time in their lives, took time to thank team members and prepare meals for them. “They came together as a community and personified resilience. It was an honor and pleasure to serve them” Squad Officer Rocco Fierravanti stated.