On Wednesday, 9/19/18, 45 members of our MA-TF1 taskforce returned home from Virginia.
The Massachusetts Urban Search and Rescue Team was deployed on Sept. 11 to Virginia to assist with the response to Hurricane Florence. Eight days later, the 46-member Massachusetts urban search and rescue team were back home.
“We were sent there with five other teams to protect the state of Virginia in case of floods or collapse,” said Dennis Macedo, the task force leader.
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Interestingly, those were the same dates the team was deployed and returned from the site of the World Trade Center 17 years ago.
The task force was one of the first teams at ground zero 17 years ago.
“Two disasters, one man made, one natural made, on the same date of us being deployed and returning, pretty amazing odds,” said Jay Bourgeois, logistics and driver. “We’ve become, some people say, the Swiss Army knife of the federal emergency response.”
Getting to Virginia was no easy feat.
“We had a tire that blew out, a trailer came disconnected,” said Jay Bourgeois. “Where it’s dark and it’s wet, that’s where I’d rather be, when they can’t get them out, that’s when they call me.”
The task force still has a 26-person team working in Columbus County, North Carolina and others working with FEMA management on the ground.
“If I leave this earth, you’ll know why it’s [got] to be, because the Lord’s trapped in rubble and he needed me,” said Bourgeois.