DORAL, Fla. – After two and a half weeks from a deployment to the west coast of Florida, Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Task Force One has returned.
The director of Miami-Dade Fire Rescue called the mission a success not just because of their hard work but because of the team’s dedication and compassion.
“Communication was terrible so at least now we are home, and everybody is safe and sound,” said Thomas Rodriguez, a firefighter with the Miami-Dade Fire Rescue.
They were welcomed home to hugs and kisses from their loved ones. It was a group of 96 first responders that included firefighters, search and rescue crews, structural engineers, doctors and K9 units that arrived back to Miami-Dade Fire Rescue headquarters in Doral after much-needed assistance to a coast and a Southwest Florida community ravaged by Hurricane Ian.
“We are only successful because our families have the support and the ability to tolerate our absence at times,” said Lt. Jeff Rouse, Task Force One leader.
Task Force One arrived to Fort Myers Sept. 29 with their mission to assist first responders with air transportation, cleanup efforts, and search and rescue.
“The movements back and forth in between the islands added a little bit of complexity, but that was overcome with the partnerships that we had in place,” said Rouse.
But with the devastation, debris and destruction, their work would not be met without challenges
“We had a lot of moving parts going on,” said Chris Martindale, rescue team manager.
And while this group has returned home they know there is still much work to be done. They have a message to those still working to rebuild their lives.
“It is a long process, but it is going to get better, it just takes a little bit of time,” said Martindale.
The group’s main focus of work was on Pine Island and Sanibel.
While there is still plenty of rebuilding, the group believes they were able to bring a bit of positivity to an area that was so badly destroyed.