Missouri Task Force One

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COLUMBIA - After a week and a half long trip in Hawaii, the Missouri Task Force One has returned. The group was dispatched to Hawaii to help local people and law enforcement prepare for Hurricane Lane.

Planning team manager Sherill Gladney said the team flew down to Honolulu on August 23. "We meet with the team and gather certain information about what the current situation is and what the expected situation is."

Gladney and other dispatched from Missouri Task Force One were originally stationed in Honolulu, but didn't see any severe threat. 

"The hurricane actually did have some impact and by then it was just a storm, so it's mostly just rain and that was down at the big island of Hawaii," she said.

Assistant Fire Chief of Boone County Fire Doug Westhoff was one man who initially went to Honolulu, but was sent to the Big Island of Hawaii.

"All the indicators were that of all of the islands and all of the activity going on, the main island and area around Hilo was the most severe," he said.

The night Westhoff arrived, there were 20 inches of rainfall.

The area of Hilo is a very remote part of the island with a large amount of rainforests. According to Westhoff, there were people living in shacks and huts in areas where flooding occurred. 

Missouri Task Force One did not have to take care of any sick or injured people while in Hawaii. The main focus for the group was to look for damaged homes and bridges. 

Both Westhoff and Gladney have been members of the MOTF-1 since it became a federal organization in 1997. They both feel like they have been a part of something big that benefits others.

"I think it's the satisfaction to get into events that have overwhelmed certain emergency systems and response systems and to be able to make some sense out of that chaos," said Westhoff.  

Gladney, with tears in her eyes, said, "You recognize when you've done something this long that really I am a tiny, tiny part of it, but I am a part of it and anything I can do in that type of situation and just... it's what we do."

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