KETTERING, Ohio -- Ohio Task Force One members arrived home Tuesday night after 10 days helping hurricane victims in Texas, but they could soon be called to turn back around and travel to the scene of another natural disaster: Hurricane Irma, the “potentially catastrophic” storm that pounded tiny northern Caribbean islands Wednesday morning.
Irma is a Category 5 storm -- stronger even than Hurricane Harvey, which killed at least 60 people and devastated Houston and surrounding areas.
“I don’t even know how to describe it,” Capt. Mike Cayse of the Cincinnati Fire Department said. “Everywhere you went, there was water. I’ve never seen rain that hard that long.”
Ohio Task Force One partnered with other agencies from all over the country to rescue Texans, including around 90 nursing home residents, from the rising water.
“These people are there because they can’t care for themselves, and a lot of them didn’t realize what was going on,” Cayse said. “You had to calm them and reassure them. The good thing is, a lot of these guys are paramedics and firefighters and have that compassion already.”
Four task force members also saved a man who became trapped under a tree while trying to rescue a neighbor’s dog.
All 49 members who went to Houston are ready to mobilize immediately after returning home, but expect to have at least one day of rest before heading out again. Still, said Cayse, if they get the call Wednesday, they'll be ready to go.