The word most Ohio Task Force One members used to describe the New Jersey coastline was “destruction.” Being able to offer aid to those who lost everything in the wreckage is why they’ll also be calling this mission a success.
The task force was called into service Monday night after Hurricane Sandy devastated the
East Coast. It completed two missions in the New Jersey’s Seaside Heights area, walking door-to-door in a city buried in sand, looking for anyone left behind.
After several days in a holding pattern at Joint Base McGuire-Dix Lakehurst completing training, task force leader Tom Lakamp said it was good to get the members out using their search and rescue skills.
“It’s what we came here to do,” he said. “it’s very hard to contain 80 ‘type-A’ personalities so while we’re staging that’s always difficult and when we finally put them to work it’s good for everybody.”
The task force was not given another mission by the Federal Emergency Management Agency or the local New Jersey authorities as of Saturday. Until members are released by New Jersey authorities as an “asset” for search and rescue missions in that state, they will remain on base, said public information officer Doug Cope.
With a nor’easter predicted to hit the coast next week, Cope said it’s uncertain what will happen with the team’s assignment.
In terms of the work the task force completed, both Cope and Lakamp said they were proud.
“It’s assisting the public which is what we are here to do,” Lakamp said.
While there is still much cleanup work to be done in New Jersey, OHTF1’s specialty is search and rescue. Because many neighborhoods have been checked already by FEMA groups, Cope said it’s now becoming less likely trapped survivors have been missed.