After six busy days I'm finally back at home! It's bittersweet though. On one hand I'm excited to be back in my room, have my bathroom with a hot shower, and some home-cooked meals!! But on the other hand I can't forget all the people who are living in more than three feet of water in their house, or worse yet are in the shelters still because the hurricane pretty much took everything.
Saturday we concluded the last of our search and rescue missions. Most of our day was spent in the San Benito area, where roads were still flooded and some of the back neighborhoods filled with several feet of standing water. The smell of the water is something I won't forget anytime soon. I also saw so many pets that were just left behind. People would padlock the gate to their yard and their dogs would just be wading through the water. I saw one neighbor go over and feed a dog locked behind one of these fences, and he said the dog had been out there for days with no one checking on it. It was so sad, but good to see someone else come take care of the dog.
Power was still out in a lot of the areas we went to. You couldn't drive down the street without seeing a power line and or pole laying on the ground. There was also hundreds of bucket trucks pulling into the towns to try and get the power back up and going. But they have a lot of work ahead of them.
After completing our missions we headed back to our headquarters in Weslaco. It was our last night to get to spend with our teams. I was fortunate enough to have been paired with the Bryan/College Station teams. It's amazing how close you can become with people in such a short amount of time, when you're working together 24/7. I truly feel like this group became my friends. I think they were impressed I could hang with them, being that I was one of only two girls. It was kind of awkward being so outnumbered and out of my element in the beginning but that changed real quick. Before you knew it, they treated me as one of them teasing me, and I them. But most importantly I got the chance to be a part of a bigger picture. Not only did I learn about friendship and the brotherhood that exists between these two firefighting teams, I also learned a big lesson in helping others. When I was offered the opportunity to join TX-TF1 on this mission, I thought they would keep me and my photographer at a distance, not really let us be a part of the action. That wasn't the case. I got to help people into rescue boats and even hold them up and talk to them. I played such a small role in comparison to all the work the task force members were doing, but I truly got the sense of helping someone in a time of disaster. It felt good. I know everyone on my team wanted to be there, and wanted to help people. It was refreshing to be a part of this.
To the Bryan/College Station Teams/TX-TF1
Thanks for letting us be a part of your world. It's an experience I will never forget, thanks for teaching me so much. Duane, Joe Don, Tommy, Pete(ie), Bill, Brett, Joe Dan, Matt, Jonas, and Lauren it was fun rooming with you guys! Keep in touch.
For now, I'm off to get some sleep because it's back to the station tomorrow-Kristen