Nevada Task Force 1 returned home Sunday afternoon, after spending a week helping with flood relief efforts in Colorado. The team of 82 Valley firefighters, doctors, engineers and other specialists was deployed by FEMA last weekend to help find and rescue thousands of people trapped by floodwaters.
The caravan of task force members and more than 500,000 pounds of heavy-duty equipment was greeted by families, relieved to see their loved ones back home safe. Only one minor injury was reported during the deployment, after one member of the team twisted his ankle.
Task force members said they were exhausted after spending a week rescuing at least 500 stranded residents by helicopter.
Search and rescue teams based out of Colorado, Nebraska, Missouri, and Utah were also deployed to assist.
"It was actually worse than what we were prepared for because homes were completely destroyed by the floods just widening on the river banks taking over roads," said K-9 Specialist Jason Ritz. He and his search and rescue dog, Jack, helped comfort flood victims who were reluctant to leave their homes as the floodwaters approached.
"Places where we went in to help people, they were cut off from being able to get out themselves. The bridges were taken out. The roads were taken out. So our people were flown in by helicopter to be able to help these people," explained Task Force Leader Jeff Lytle. He said seeing the water wipe out entire communities is something that will stay with him for a lifetime, but the gratitude he felt from the people his team saved is even more memorable.
While families in Colorado are starting to put the pieces of their lives back together, families in Las Vegas are thankful to have their heroes back home.
There are still four task force members in Colorado repairing damaged vehicles and equipment. They should return home Tuesday.
The search and rescue continues in Colorado where 60 people are still unaccounted for. At least seven people are confirmed dead.
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