MENLO PARK (CBS SF) — Members of a San Francisco Bay Area urban search and rescue team returned to their Menlo Park base Sunday after journeying to Florida to help residents facing Hurricane Irma, fire officials said.
The task force drove about 5,000 miles back and forth across the U.S. to Elgin Air Force Base in Florida with 11 vehicles, seven trailers and more than 60,000 pounds of search and rescue equipment.
The task force mobilized a new group of members to respond to Florida and Hurricane Irma 30 minutes after the water rescue team returned from Texas and Hurricane Harvey, Menlo Park Fire Protection District Fire Chief Harold Schapelhouman said.
The sudden re-deployment disappointed family members of the team, eager to welcome them back home.
“That was pretty shocking. We were kind of mad that he said he was coming home for sure and then they said, ‘no, you gotta go to *this* hurricane’,” said Scott Bassett, whose dad is in the Menlo Park Fire Department.
The team is sponsored by the Menlo Park Fire Protection District and also includes team members from Central San Mateo County, Palo Alto, San Jose and South San Francisco.
Team members have responded to disasters nationwide including World Trade Towers’ disaster Sept. 11, 2001 in New York City, Schapelhouman said.
With hurricane season still very much underway, the team may not have long to rest.
“(Hurricane) Maria’s brewing up so we’re waiting for that to hit so could be leaving, I would say, in a couple of days,” said crew mechanic Rudy Torres.
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