Members of Missouri Task Force 1 headed home early Saturday morning, after being deployed for 10 days to help with the aftermath of Hurricane Michael.
The team arrived at its headquarters at the Boone County Fire Protection District around 11:30 a.m.
MO-TF1 was deployed as a Mission Ready Package, specifically for water rescues, on Oct. 9.
Chuck Leake, leader of the Mission Read Package for the Hurricane Michael deployment, said they never once used the boats they brought to Florida. He said the water receded more quickly than expected.
The majority of the teams assignments were urban search and rescue, and he said they ended up moving lots of trees from the area that they were afraid would fall.
He said a Florida firefighter died Friday clearing the same debris that Task Force One was clearing.
“We assess those dangers and we look at what’s the safest way for us to accomplish our missions,” Leake said. “We do what we do, it’s a risky job, but we do so with education, decision-making and planning before we just go running in.”
Leake said they are glad to be back home. He said he is extremely proud of the work the team did and the level of professionalism they showed.
“It was 4,000 structures that we got to, and I don’t know how many thousands we said ‘are you okay?’ to,” he said. “With that, Missouri reached out. and Missouri did a great job with these professional men and women of Missouri Task Force One.”
Logistics manager Adam Stoffer said he was blown away by how such a small group of people could help such a large community.
“We put together a team of 19 people and we went out and impacted over 4,000 houses,” he said. “It’s very humbling to know that a small group of professional people can make a huge difference in our country.”
Editor’s Note: The full interview with Chuck Leake will be available soon.