COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — We’re hearing from Ohio Task Force 1 for the first time since Hurricane Ian made landfall, devastating the Florida coast.
It’s also the first time the team has had cell service since NBC4 spoke to them earlier this week. From Sunbury, Jack Reall is the task force leader on this mission. He said the team has been hard at work, and their main focus is on flood recovery and helping people who did not leave during the storm.
“Overwhelmed, they’re in shock, frustrated you know there is a lot of things going on with them and it’s fear — a lot of them have lost a lot and they don’t know how they’re going to recover from it,” said Reall.
The coast has experienced devastating damage, entire cities flooded and homes damaged — the Sunshine State forever changed. Reall said they’re moving south and focusing on flood evacuation and rescue along the way.
“Get through the rescue phase in as quick of manner as possible so we give everyone a chance who may be stuck or need help that we can get to them as quickly as possible,” he said. “We’re really sprinting right now but it is a marathon, but we gotta get moving on this part of it.”
A second contingent of task force members left Dayton Thursday and re-grouped with the first round of responders Friday morning. Reall said their help is needed, especially as they move further south.
“Water is rising again right now, as the water drains back towards the ocean it’s rising on the coastline, so we’ll have a couple more days of flooding getting worse right now,” he explained. “So, we expect that to be a big part of what we’re going the next few days.”
Reall said the team is made up of veteran and newer task force members. They’re all leaning on each other for support during a very difficult mission, he said.
“Everybody here is in good spirits — they’re doing a great job and they may be tired, and they may look rough, like I do right now, but they’re doing a really good job,” said Reall.
There is no set date when Ohio Task Force 1 will return back to the Buckeye state. Reall expects their team will be needed for the next several days.