Missouri Task Force One Stands by for Deployment

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COLUMBIA - The Boone County Fire Protection District's Missouri Task Force 1, is waiting to hear from the Federal Emergency Management Agency if they will deploy to help in search and rescue efforts in Colorado where severe flooding has destroyed more than 200 homes.

FEMA sent the task force along with the Nevada task force an alert order early Friday morning. It put both rescue crews on standby for possible deployment. Boone County Fire and Rescue notified 80 members of its rescue volunteers of the alert.

Battalion Chief Gale Blomenkamp said he is expecting a decision from FEMA early Friday afternoon.

Blomenkamp said, if needed, Missouri Task Force 1 will take 80 crew members and four search dogs to Colorado. Although the task force prepares for a variety of rescue scenarios, he said Task Force 1 has not had many opportunities to deal with flood waters.

"The challenge that maybe Missouri Task Force hasn't experienced so much is the actual flooding or flash flooding, Blomenkamp said. "When these waters drop in the mountains of Colorado and come down these canyons, it's moving at a high rate of speed and it is truly dangerous swift water."

If deployed, Missouri Task Force 1 will see mostly search and rescue work.

"We could be doing anything from wide area searches...we could be doing searches inside structures that have been damaged or destroyed, we could be doing water rescues off of boats in swift water or static water," Blomenkamp said.

To aid their efforts, the Missouri task force would take three tractor trailers, five hitch trailers, two large busses, a support vehicle, a van, boats, and a command unit.

The success of the task force's mission depends on everyone's safety.

"Going out there to be able to support the needs of Coloradoans," said Blomenkamp. "For us to go out and help and for us to be able to return all of our people to their own families in the state of Missouri is a success."

Other deployments for Missouri Task Force 1 included, New York after 9/11, New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, and Virginia after Hurricane Sandy.