UPDATE: Columbia Task Force Goes On Call For Hurricane Sandy
COLUMBIA - Missouri Task Force 1 was put alert by FEMA in response to Hurricane Sandy on Monday. The alert means the task force has to be prepared to respond to Hurricane Sandy if called. Missouri Task Force 1 will be activated if the Maryland/Virgina, home base task forces need extra assistance helping local residents and state assets. Tennessee, Ohio, and Indiana task forces have been put on alert as well. Maryland and Virgina task forces have also been put on alert on their home base since their states could be physically impacted by the hurricane.
Division Chief Gale Blomenkamp said Missouri Task Force 1 is well equipped to handle hurricanes. "You get a little leeway as far as time versus the natural disaster of an earthquake or even a terrorist attack. Hurricanes are beneficial for us because we can do a little planning and pre-staging."
The task force will be notified in the next 24 hours whether or not it will be activated. The task force is currently preparing its medical cache, pharmaceuticals, and its deployment roster, as well as determining its convoy plans so it can give that information to FEMA. If activated, the task force will have approximately four hours to assemble 80 people, 100 thousand pounds of equipment, and get on the road. Once on location, it would rescue people trapped in homes, as well as tend to building collapses.
There are 26 task forces across the nation. The Missouri task force has been activated before for 9/11, the Republican National Convention, the Joplin tornado, Hurricane Ike, and the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster.
According to Blomenkamp, support agencies such as the American Red Cross are the best way for people in mid-Missouri to get involved to help.
The Fire Department reported that Missouri Task Force 1 was activated at approximately 9 p.m. Monday night. The force planned to deploy within four hours, aiming to arrive in Herndon, VA by 5 a.m. Tuesday morning.