Posted: Sep 23, 2013 8:23 PM by Danielle Carter, KOMU 8 News Reporter
Updated: Sep 23, 2013 11:29 PM
COLUMBIA - After eight days in northern Colorado assisting with search and rescue efforts, Missouri Task Force One returned home Monday afternoon.
The group was based in Loveland, Colorado, and helped out in Estes Park and near the Big Thompson River.
The 80 members of Task Force One returned home around 3:30 p.m. to a small but enthusiastic crowd of supporters and family members waiting at the Boone County Fire Protection District.
Some of the children were especially happy to welcome their fathers home from Colorado.
"We're really excited. Daniel was probably the most excited to see his daddy!" said one little girl.
Terry Cassil, safety officer with Missouri Task Force One and division chief with the Columbia Police Department said certain aspects of Colorado's terrain proved to be difficult for the task force members.
"This is not the normal flood zone. You don't normally get sent to the mountains for a flood zone. We don't think about the mountains in a flood," said Cassil.
The group did a lot of its work in mountains because when the flood erased roadways, it left people stranded in their homes on the mountainsides.
In addition, Cassil said the group also struggled with adjusting to the higher altitude.
"We had to deal with altitude," said Cassil. "Not really problems, but it's harder for us to breathe there, and get along in the altitude so that changed our work a little bit."
However, the task force didn't simply rescue people; they rescued pets as well.
"We had one evacuation that was over 100 bunnies which is a very big challenge on how do you crate them and how do you safely take care of them," said Cassil. "We even had a tarantula one day, a ferret, and ducks and you name it we almost had it."
Cassil also said the devastation was severe and similar to that of Hurricane Sandy.
"The areas that it hit, it just took them out," said Cassil. "Houses were just piled up. You would just see a stream, and there would just be seven, eight homes just piled up in one spot. And inside the house, are two cars, that weren't inside the house before."
However, Cassil said despite the destruction, the people of Colorado will persevere.
"They're a hardy people. They're very resilient. They're very self sufficient."