GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A specialized rescue team sent south to deal with the aftermath of Hurricane Ida is now back in Michigan and its members have quite a story to tell.
Michigan Task Force One is made up of current, retired and former rescue personal trained to respond to the most difficult rescues across the country. It was among a number of similar groups from across the country called to help rescue efforts in Louisiana.
It is a call Dean England has answered many times before.
“We were on the road at 7. It took us two days to get there,” England said.
The Task Force’s 46 members conducted searches of structures devastated by Ida and assessed the damage. By the time its eight-day, 3,000-mile mission was complete, the team had gone through 9,000 structures and helped more than 800 people.
But in the end, the mission was a much as about the human spirit as it was about the tasks at hand.
“When you go into a neighborhood and there’s nothing left of people’s homes, and what they do have left, they’re offering you cold water and food to eat — it’s supposed to be the other way around,” England said.
Team members saw people devastated and homeless; going through what may be the worst days of their lives. The reactions of those same people gave the team something they didn’t expect.
Like a lady’s whose home was destroyed by the wind.
“There was nothing left there, and we said, ‘We’re offering you MREs and food and water,'” England said. “And she says, ‘No, we’re worried about you.’ I think that’s the thing that touched all of us.”