Rescue task force teams from TN, MS head north to help with Sandy's impact

Rescue Task Force Teams From TN,MS head North To Help People With Sandy Impact

(WMC-TV) – Crews from Tennessee and Mississippi were heading north Monday night to aid in Sandy's aftermath.

An 80-member team with tractor-trailer loads of equipment left Memphis around 9 PM Monday night and is not expected to return for at least 7 to 10 days.

Tennessee Task Force One, which is one of 28 search and rescue teams across the nation funded by the Department of Homeland Security, was put on alert earlier Monday afternoon. An official call to duty came later.

Made up primarily of firefighters and other emergency personnel, the team will first rally with others in Fairfax, Virginia before possibly being dispatched to other storm-ravaged  areas.

"We train for this, we train for this - all of our members are well trained - we train throughout the year to be prepared for situations like this," Battalion Chief Keith Staples said.

Tennessee Task Force One was last deployed in the wake of Hurricanes Gustav and Ike that struck along the Gulf Coast.

While Virginia is their initial destination point on this deployment, that could change while they are en route depending on damage reports.

A second Mid-South rescue team is on the road to Maryland. They want to help in Sandy's aftermath, just as Maryland rescuers did after Katrina in Mississippi.

The Mississippi task force specializes in swift water rescues.  These teams were created after Katrina. They were trained and equipped through various grants. And now they are on the road to Maryland.

"It's a very tough job," Timothy Curtis with DeSoto County Emergency Management said.

A tough job, but a well-trained swift water rescue team from DeSoto County's Emergency Management joined other task force members from across Mississippi on the way to the Baltimore area to help with the rescue efforts in the aftermath of Sandy.

"One of the skills they actually practice for is going roof top to roof top cutting through the roof top to be able to get people off second stories and out of attics," said Curtis.

Flat-bottomed boats are on the way to Maryland after the state requested swift water rescue boats.

Bobby Storey, head of DeSoto County's EMA and his team are on the road. He says the Task Force is a kind of pay back.

"We're going to go up there and do what we can to make sure we pay Maryland and everybody else back when they came down and helped us with Katrina," he said.

A pay back from a grateful Task Force of 22 people headed into the unknown of Sandy's wrath.

DeSoto EMA says rescues are going to be especially tough and dangerous because of the cold weather. You don't want to spend too much time in the water if you fall in.

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