*10 P.M. Update*
Members of the most deployed urban search and rescue team in the country returned to their base of College Station after helping in Moore, Oklahoma.
Many members News 3 spoke with say this was the worst destruction they'd ever seen.
Members of Texas Task Force 1 have covered so many disasters including hurricanes, floods, and tornadoes.
But this deployment was different with destruction still hard to believe.
Unpacking and unloading.
And some happy reunions for members of the state's elite urban search and rescue team Texas Task Force 1 as they returned to College Station from the Sooner State.
"Just the damage that I had to witness down there I will never forget," said Justin Todd of the Killeen Fire Department.
He is a Disaster Medical Specialist for the Task Force.
"I've lived through two tornadoes before in Central Texas but nothing, nothing, compares to what I saw and experienced in Oklahoma," he explained.
College Station Firefighter and Task Force Member, James McNeely searched to make sure everyone had been pulled from the rubble, and says nearly everything was gone.
'"You know the thing that came to my mind is seeing the valuables, the personal effects that were just strewn everywhere. There's baseball cards, there's family pictures," said McNeely.
As the 80 team members return and unpack from their trip many of them expect to come back sometime soon. Hurricane season starts on June 1st.
"We have been to a lot of hurricanes, so the hurricanes are kind of making sense to us. We can see a lot of patterns with the winds. This seemed to be pretty much patternless. There were random things, signs wrapped around building, buildings wrapped around signs," said Jeff Saunders, Texas Task Force 1 Operations Chief.
The team says the hospitality in Oklahoma was amazing as well as working with first responders there.
They were even welcomed by the University of Oklahoma President and football coach Bob Stoops.
The task force is made up of firefighters, first responders, structural engineers and even K-9 handlers.
They all have to be ready to travel to College Station within five hours notice for deployment.
*Texas Task Force 1 Press Release*
Texas Task Force 1 has completed their assigned missions in Moore, OK in support of the local jurisdiction and is demobilizing today.
The Task Force will return to their facility in College Station to go through out processing and then be released to return to their individual homes.
TX-TF1 was honored to be in position to help during this tragic time and credits the quick and expert response of local emergency personnel in saving lives.
The Task Force would also like to thank the University of Oklahoma, their Housing and Food Services, Coach Bob Stoops and the entire OU family for going “above and beyond” in helping with food, shelter and hospitality allowing our team to be “rested, fed and freed up to do so much more for the residents of Oklahoma”. Said one member of TX-TF1, “…this is the kind of thing that I know our Aggies would do if the roles were reversed…this was a real “Aggie spirit kind of thing”.
Another member of the Task Force spoke of a surprise visit by Coach Bob Stoops. “Yesterday while my squad (Squad 3) had just finished hours of wide area searches, Oklahoma University Football Coach Bob Stoops stopped by and personally thanked us individually. This little gesture gave us a 2nd wind.”
Who is TX-TF1?
TX-TF1 is sponsored by the Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service (TEEX) and has deployed over 90 times since 1997, including the Space Shuttle Columbia tragedy, Sept. 11th World Trade Center attack, and Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, and Ike. TX-TF1 can be activated by the Texas Division of Emergency Management or as one of the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) 28 sanctioned urban search and rescue teams.
Members of TX-TF1 range from firefighters and medical personnel, to structural engineers, and come from all areas capable of reporting to College Station within a five-hour window. The task force consists of three separate units of approximately 80 members each. The teams rotate on a monthly standby, stand down or on call status. The “White” Team is the task force currently on call for deployment.
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