Nebraska Task Force 1 is packing up and leaving Texas after helping with rescue efforts in wake of Hurricane Harvey.
Lincoln Fire Battalion Chief Brad Thavenet leads the task force.
Thavenet says the task force is heading back to Nebraska, unless it is needed in wake of the next big storm: Hurricane Irma.
“Should the need arise and Irma would come forth where they have a better direct line of travel for that particular hurricane to divert the task force from being inbound to Lincoln to inbound to a staging area closer to where the potential for that hurricane to come in,” Thavenet tells reporters during a conference call from Texas Monday.
Nebraska Task Force 1 is one of a number of rescue task forces from throughout the country which responded to the disaster which struck the Houston area in wake of Hurricane Harvey. Combined, members of the various task forces rescued more than 4,500 residents stranded by floodwaters.
Nebraska Task Force 1 rescued more than 1,500 residents as well as 120 pets. The 80-member task force includes firefighters from the Lincoln, Omaha, and Papillion areas. It also has doctors, structural engineers, and heavy-rigging specialists.
Texas officials dismissed the task forces with those from the East Coast leaving this morning with those from the Midwest leaving this afternoon. All are keeping in touch with Washington, D.C. to see if they are needed elsewhere should Hurricane Irma reach landfall in the United States.
Thavenet says the task force leaves Texas in high spirits.
“Extremely gratified,” Thavenet says of the members of Nebraska Task Force 1 who he talked with as they prepared to leave. “They are beaming. They are ecstatic for the opportunity.”
Thavenet says members of the task force will return to Nebraska with experiences they will never forget.