COLUMBUS (WCMH) – From disaster to disaster, Ohio Task Force One first responded to the condominium collapse in Surfside, Florida, and now roughly two months later, to the flood water of Louisiana.
Craig Mignogno, a rescue squad officer with Ohio Task Force One, had returned home from Surfside two months ago and is now one of those responding to the aftermath of Hurricane Ida. He is one of a handful of team members doing the same thing.
“I would say that maybe half of the team down here now was in Surfside, what is it now, maybe six weeks ago?” he said. “So about half of the team came back out again.”
The team of rescue specialists is currently in Louisiana, having spent Wednesday surveying Livingston Parish after Ida hit the region.
Mignogno compared the team’s current mission to the Florida mission, where 98 people died in the building collapse.
“We had that discussion at the beginning of this operation, that we’re doing a different operation than Surfside,” Mignogno said. “We’re kind of back into the boat now, how things go with hurricanes. It is very different, but I think we’re doing OK with it.”
He said the team is leaning on each other when they have a tough time, taking care of one another while taking care of Louisiana residents.
The mission has now moved from rescue to damage assessment.
“Beyond our immediate capabilities to rescue people by boat, get people out of buildings, and everything, we move into our ability to do real-time mapping and provide site surveys, damage assessments for structures, roads that are blocked,” Mignogno said.
Along with power, 911 systems are down and they’re doing their best to provide comfort for those who hunkered down through the hurricane winds and rain.
“A lot of people have been asking about resources, as far as good water because the power being down and we don’t always have great information ourselves,” Mignogno said. “Sometimes that information is not there. The system hasn’t caught up yet, so sometimes it’s a matter of reassuring them it’s being worked on.”
Mignogno did not know how long the team would be in Louisiana, but that it would be there for as long as it was needed.