Oakland's Task Force 4 returns home after Harvey

- A team of first responders who traveled to Texas to help flood victims returned to home to the Bay Area Monday night.

They arrived at Oakland International Airport around 7 p.m.

The Task Force 4 Team is made up of about 75 members from 18 East Bay fire agencies.

Team members say they're grateful for the chance to use their skills to help the flood victims of Texas.

Though they're home now, they say they're ready to serve should they get the call again. As the team walked into the baggage claim area, family members and other supporters applauded them.

Some were reunited with their families.

They say they're glad to be home and grateful for the opportunity to fulfill the mission to help others. 

"What I love about it is making a huge difference in people's lives," Firefighter-engineer Charohn Dawson with Alameda County Fire Department.

This team carried out its missions by boat, doing whatever was needed, whether it was a rescue or emotional support. 

"It felt great to help people who needed help and just be there for comfort and be there even for people who didn't necessarily want to be moved away their houses," says Battalion Chief Robert Lipp with the Oakland Fire Department.

A handful of women are part of the team, including Marisha Chilcott, a family doctor.

When asked what was most rewarding about this deployment, she replied, "The smile on people's faces when we show up. It's an amazing sense of appropriateness. To row up or come up in a boat or to slosh through the water , to be able to talk to people and check in with them and offer them assistance," she said.

Team members say the ability to offer hope in people's darkest of moments makes the long hours and hazardous conditions bearable.

"I risk my life, my time and energy and I test my own capabilities to make a difference, to bring stability to an area," says Dawson.

Team members are already looking beyond Hurricane Harvey, with Hurricane Irma on the horizon.

They say they preparing for their next possible deployment.

"We are in the rotation model for urban search and rescue for FEMA. We are first up in the western rotation. We're going to get right to work. We'll rest tonight and we'll get right to work tomorrow getting all our equipment and personnel ready to go out should we be called again," Lipp said.

Most team members will get 48 hours of rest before getting back to work at their fire departments.

There are more than two dozen team members who area driving back. They're expected to be back in the Bay Area Thursday or Friday.

 

 

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