First responders return from Carolinas and Florence recovery efforts

- Sixty-two members of Florida Task Force Two made their first stop in the Sunshine State after being deployed to the Carolinas on September 11.

“I shed a tear,” says Canine Search Specialist, Dr. Jennifer Brown, as she set her eyes on the larger-than-life American flag that greeted them at their International Drive hotel.  “It means a lot. We all look out for each other on deployment, and then we have our comrades looking back, looking at us to go home.”

As a Canine Search Specialist, Dr. Brown works with dogs on the search and rescue team. In the case of Florence, the team had the unfortunate task of finding the body of a toddler swept away in Florence’s fiery.

“They could hear the mother screaming,” says Task Force Two leader, David Duenas, of the moment his team arrived to the seen of a mother/child rescue. “It was very heartbreaking for all of us to not be able to bring that one-year-old toddler back to mom, but... we were able to find the toddler and at least provide some closure for the family.”

The Task Force has reported to previous hurricanes, but they say what Florence brought was ferocious.

“The speed and the strength of that water was not what we had encountered in Harvey,” says Task Force Water Specialist, Nicholas Wohl. “We found hunting tree stands that were level with our boat... those tree stands are typically 10 to 15 feet high, so we were dealing with very high, deep water.”

Florida Task Force Two is made up of individuals from a couple-dozen South Florida fire agencies. The team will make the final part of their journey to Miami on Saturday. Over a dozen individuals, from their team, still remain in the Carolinas. 

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