Volunteers return home after helping hurricane victims

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Volunteers return home after helping hurricane victims. Sarah Bloomquist reports during Action News at 5:30 p.m. on September 19, 2017. (WPVI)

A caravan came rolling into the Philadelphia Fire Department's Special Operations Center in Northeast Philadelphia.

One by one, 19 members of the Pennsylvania Task Force One, stepped off the buses, and back into the arms of loved ones who were waiting to greet them.

The task force made up of firefighters and other specially-trained first responders departed back on August 27.

They headed to the Houston area to help after Harvey, with high-risk efforts like searching submerged cars for bodies - and rescuing people who might be trapped.

From there, they moved on to the Florida Keys to help the victims of Hurricane Irma.

Commissioner Adam Thiel of the Philadelphia Fire Department said, "They did a lot of water rescues and searches during Harvey in Texas and then in Irma. They did structural assessment and things like that. They got down as far as the Upper Keys."

Eric Darling of the PA Task Force One said, "We supported the mission. We helped residents and the people of Florida, and did exactly what FEMA set forth, to go out there and do our job and help out everybody that needed the help."

David Baker of PA Task Force One added, "My role is technical information, so I do mapping and communications. But we were everywhere from Houston to the Florida Keys, helping everybody on the way."

It was an unprecedented deployment - two hurricanes in rapid succession. Members say they're glad to help, but ready for hurricane season to end, and happy to finally be home.

"Happy to be home. Great to see the family. We've missed each other," Baker said.

Jim Kelly of PA Rescue Team One said, "I am going to have a beer. 23 days without a beer. That's my first line of activities."

The team members get 48 hours to rest, and then they're right back in the FEMA rotation.

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Related Topics:
philadelphia newshurricane harveyhurricane irmafloridatexas
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