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Springfield Fire Department Captain Ready to Help Victims of Hurricane Florence

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NOAA/STAR
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A member of the Springfield Fire Department is in North Carolina to help with rescue operations as Hurricane Florence barrels nears the East Coast. 

He is deployed with Missouri Task Force 1 to Raleigh, North Carolina where he’ll serve as a boat operator and hazmat technician. Missouri Task Force 1 requested his name not be published for security reasons.  Two other Springfield fire captains are on standby to deploy if needed.

The 37 MO-TF1 members were deployed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.  They left Tuesday to join 10 others already on the East Coast as well as other task forces from across the U.S.  The storm has been downgraded from a Category 4 to a Category 2, but sustained winds of 110 miles per hour and major flooding are expected. 

MO-TF1 is one of 28 FEMA search and rescue teams located throughout the United States.  It’s coordinated by the Boone County Fire Protection District.

The district’s spokesman, Gale Blomenkamp said they deployed Tuesday as a type three task force.

"It includes canine search and rescue dogs and then also human remains detection dogs as well as half of the complement of people that can do all the other situations that may arise," he said. 

According to Blomenkamp, the team also consists of 14 swift water technicians and more than 100,000 pounds of equipment.  Catastrophic flooding is expected inland as the storm stalls over a large section of the East Coast, including in the Carolinas and Virginia.

Blomenkamp said task force members are well prepared to help victims of the hurricane.

"These people, men and women, are trained to the best of the best, and, you know, they're not all firefighters, paramedics...we have a physician on the team that's deployed.  We have structural engineers, we have planning people, we have communications experts, and so it's not just firefighters--it's people from all walks of life from all over the state of Missouri," Blomenkamp said. 

Missouri Task Force 1 is made up of 210 people from all over the state who volunteer to be members.  FEMA provides funding for their pay while they’re deployed.