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Missouri Task Force 1 wraps up in Florida after Hurricane Michael

Missouri Task Force 1 has been in Florida for almost a week, and so far, members have assisted more than 1,000 people and searched nearly 3,000 buildings.

Thirty-two people have died in connection to the hurricane, and the number continues to rise while search teams continue to look through the wreckage.

According to various local media outlets in Florida, thousands of people are still missing.

Missouri Task Force 1 leader Chuck Leake said Hurricane Michael reminds him of the 2011 Joplin tornado catastrophe because of the widespread area that was devastated.

Leake said he has a 19-person crew and three K9 units in the area. Currently, 12 of the crew members are at a base camp in Panama City.

Seven of the crew members and the three human remain K9 units are in Mexico Beach continuing the search.

Yesterday, he said they searched more than 1,300 structures. Leake said they are working around the clock.

“(We’re) knocking on doors and being several days into the storm and oftentimes being the first ones to say, ‘are you alright?'”

During these search missions, he said his crews are trekking through the sand, going through homes with human remain K9 units. He said many of the homes have trees running through the middle of them.

“A lot of times, they are having to take their chainsaws to cut open a roadway to get further down a road or further down somebody’s driveway,” Leake said.

Or he said the homes are completely wiped away, and few are in immaculate condition.

“In some cases, people lost their lives, in others, they were either able to evacuate or get themselves into some safe place,” Leake said.

He said many of the locals are moving into the recovery stage.

“The long-term process of trying to get this city and this state back to normal, whatever their new normal’s going to be,” Leake said.

Many victims of the storm have lost everything, according to Leake, and they are doing everything they can to help provide these people with closure.

“Folks are going to have to figure out what tomorrow, what next month, next year is going to look like for them,” Leake said.

He said his crews are proud of what they’ve done for the citizens of the state of Florida. He said that is what keeps them going.

He said they will stay as long as they are needed, but he thinks they are wrapping up, and they could only be there a couple more days.

He said they have been sleeping on the pavement, with a mat and a bean-bag in 110 degree heat indexes.

“We’ve done all the searches and rescues that can be,” Leake said. “There will be some recovery, so that families get closure.”

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