A tactical rescue team from Missouri that helped with Hurricane Harvey, is still ready to go in the aftermath of Florence.
Brad Dillow with Southeast Missouri’s Homeland Security Response Team, says his group has everything packed and ready to go east to help with disaster relief from the hurricane.
That includes several support vehicles, a trailer packed with equipment, and three inflatable boats.
Dillow says the lightweight boats are durable, can carry a lot of people and are great for navigating swift water.
“They have different tubes so if we get a puncture into one side of the boat we don’t lose the entire boat,” Dillow said. “If we do get into rough water and turn the boat over, it does not sink. It stays afloat. Jon (aluminum, fiberglass, or wood) boats don’t have any secondary flotation so if you take on a lot of water or hit something, the boat can just basically sink and there is no recovering that.”
Dillow said that hurricane rescue teams can not force anybody to evacuate, but says not leaving puts responders in more danger.
“What is going to happen because this is what we’ve seen in Harvey is the people that did not want to go at the beginning after about three, five, six days of no power, food starts running out, water starts running out – that changes people’s attitude very quickly,” Dillow said. “I remember vividly people saying we’d pick them up and they said ‘I’ve had enough. I want out of here.’”
Dillow says rescue teams have to avoid many hazards when helping people get to safety, but one that is often overlooked is how contaminated flood water can be.
“You’ve got oil, gasoline, sewage, and diseases,” Dillow said. “All of our personnel have wetsuits and are covered pretty much from the bottom of our feet all the way up to our heads with the proper equipment. You see people just wading through the water and it might not hurt you right now. But later down in your life, you might contract something because of that water you were in.”
Dillow says their tactical rescue team was not called down to help with Hurricane Harvey in Texas last year until the back end of the storm.
He thinks there is still a good chance they could be heading to Florence this week, especially if first responders on the East coast need more reinforcements.
Missourinet media partner KFVS-TV contributed this story