Tennessee Task Force One returns from Texas, gets activated for Florida


MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WKRN) – A group of 80 first responders will leave west Tennessee on Thursday to be ready for any devastation that Hurricane Irma brings to Florida.

Tennessee Task Force 1 is based out of Memphis, and for the last 12 days, they have been rescuing hundreds in Texas. Now, they are preparing in case they have to do it again in Florida.

“The water was rising so fast; a foot, 12 inches an hour for more than two days,” said Task Force Leader and Goodlettsville Fire Chief Kenneth Reeves.PHOTOS: Hurricane Harvey

The team arrived back in Memphis Tuesday evening, and less than an hour later, they were activated again.

“We are glad to do our part, we are glad to help the people in Texas. It is our honor to do so and anytime we are called upon to do so we will be willing to do it,” Lt. Phillip Tolbert with the Memphis Fire Department told WATN on Tuesday.

“We were still backing into parking spaces and the call came in to go to Irma,” Reeves said on Wednesday.

FEMA activates the team and will move them toward the storm to wait it out. Once it passes, they will begin search and rescues in the hardest hit areas.PHOTOS: Hurricane Irma

“They’ll be in lower Alabama in a military post where they can wait out the storm and then move where they are needed from there,” said Reeves.

Half of the team that will leave for Florida were also on the ground in Texas.

“About half the team, half the 80-person team, is a repeat from Harvey and the other half are new ones,” explained Reeves.

He told News 2 these men and women train for hours and look forward to the call for help.

“The teams are designed for structural collapse, heavy concrete and steel structure collapse,” said Reeves.

Even after 12 long days in horrible conditions, they are ready to help even more people who may have lost everything.

“They think about their small individual task of the moment and they work through it that way, step by step,” Reeves told News 2.

The Task Force will leave early on Thursday morning. On average, they are gone 10 days to two weeks.  Reeves said he will stay back this time to be with his firefighters in Goodlettsville.Click here for complete coverage of Hurricane Irma.Click here for complete coverage of Hurricane Harvey.

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