Task Force members face another storm - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Task Force members face another storm

Less than a week after returning from Katrina recovery efforts on the Gulf Coast, members of Tennessee's Task Force One are leaving again. This time they're focused on Hurricane Ophelia.

Tennessee Task Force One is about to embark on their eighth hurricane rescue mission. This week's target, Ophelia.

"These task forces are trained and equipped for structural collapse of concrete and steel buildings," said Task Force leader Kenneth Reeves.

Saturday 78 men and women were bound for Atlanta where they will wait for Ophelia to make her move. The work is grueling and sometimes gruesome.

"The team we're working with are emergency responders from all over Shelby County so they see, they have seen death before," said Reeves.

Even if Ophelia doesn't make landfall the group has to be prepared to head back to the Gulf Coast and assist with the hurricane Katrina relief effort. It's one of three rotating rescue teams. Some of them just got back from the Gulf Coast Tuesday where conditions were deplorable.

"We literally lived on the asphalt in a parking lot...took a shower out of a bottle of water," said Dr. Joe Holley.

Saturday afternoon team members squeezed in last minute moments with loved ones.

Packing as light as possible, they prepare to survive in places where they know it will be dark, it will be hot and it will be wet.

Team doctors will monitor them meticulously.

"At about 10 to 14 days, just because of physical exhaustion and fatigue people start getting hurt," said one Task Force member.

This is the same group that went to the Pentagon after the Sept. 11 attacks. They say the magnitude of Katrina rivals if not exceeds that very dark day.

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