The state’s elite group of disaster responders is helping with search, rescue and evacuation operations in Brunswick County, North Carolina in the aftermath of Hurricane Florence. Spokesman Gale Blomenkamp says Missouri Task Force 1 is coordinating with other responders for relief.

Missouri Task Force 1 boats deployed to North Carolina during Hurricane Florence (Image courtesy of Boone County Fire Protection District)

“The crews are doing good,” says Blomenkamp. “They’re also working with U.S. Coast Guard boats and high water rescue vehicles. The crews are out doing more recon work and checking on neighborhoods and subdivisions to see how people are faring.”

The Boone County Fire Protection District is the sponsoring agency of the Missouri Task Force, which is under the oversight of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).  Only 28 of the elite squads exist in the country and are strategically located in different regions.

Blomenkamp says communities in North Carolina have been receptive to the help coming from Missouri.

“Well they’re gracious and very pleased that we’re there to help them,” Blomenkamp says. “They’ve been great hosts, so to speak, for our men and women, treating us very. The comments on Facebook just prove that people are glad that we’re there. And we’re glad to be there to help.”

KTVI-TV reported late Tuesday night that Task Force 1 have rescued 59 flood victims, checked on over 500 people sheltering in place, evacuated 8 animals and rescued 12 individuals trapped in rising floodwaters in a van.

Missouri Task Force 1 will remain in North Carolina for the time being to help with any additional problems that stem from flooding. All of the 28 task forces across the country are designed to assist out-of-state and with local emergency agencies facing a disaster response.

When they operate in-state, their expenses are financed by the state. Missouri tax dollars were used through the State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) when the Columbia team was dispatched to assist with relief during floods in 2017.  FEMA picks up the tab when teams are sent out of state.

Fifty members of Missouri’s Task Force 1 were deployed to North Carolina more than a week ago.

Missourinet media partner KWIX contributed to this report