(CBS4) – As Ida moves further inland, search and rescue crews from Colorado are already on the ground and ready to respond to whatever is needed.
Colorado Task Force 1 was activated and deployed Saturday ahead of when Hurricane Ida was predicted to make landfall. A team of 45 people and two K-9’s made the 22 hour drive to Louisiana.READ MORE: Colorado Parks And Wildlife Shares Advice For Having The Most Enjoyable Leaf Peeping Adventures
“The closer we got into the city we saw a lot of trees, a lot of trailers and things like that damaged. Not an awful lot of structural stuff until we got right onto highway 61,” said task force leader Brian Daley.
The crew is now stationed outside of New Orleans, where the damage is extensive, and more than a million people are without power. So far, it has not been assigned any missions.
“So, really now we’re just waiting to see what they’re going to have us do,” said Daley.
The task force is a Colorado-based team for the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and includes firefighters, paramedics, engineers, physicians, and more. Each is highly trained to help local agencies after disasters.
In the past, the team has responded to other large incidents and disasters, including the attack on the World Trade Centers in 2001, Hurricane Katrina, and most recently the building collapse in South Florida.
“Their actions today will be to first just make it out into the communities and facilities, so access will be extremely difficult,” said Steve Aseltine, a chief with West Metro Fire and task force leader of many years.READ MORE: Bustang Resumes Service From Denver Tech Center To Colorado Springs
While Aseltine did not make the trip this time, he has responded to countless disasters over the years, including Hurricane Katrina, where he worked out of the same location the current team is now.
Much like 16 years ago, he says the work will be hazardous and exhausting, but crews are prepared.
“It’s critical to that person that might need that help or that piece of infrastructure that’s damaged, or just gaining access to an entire parish or community or island that can’t be done without this type of resource deployed out in the field,” Aseltine said.
“There’s many different risks that we have to face, and fortunately, these crews are the highest trained people in the country.”
For Daley and the team currently in Louisiana, each mission will depend on what the area needs. What that looks like remains to be seen.
“We have the skillset to do it, we have the desire to do it, we have the training, we have the equipment,” he said.MORE NEWS: C-130 Makes History By Landing On Highway 287 In Wyoming
“There’s things that are going on here that need our help, and I think the opportunity to come down and help them out and understand that, we’re here to do what we can to make their lives easier.”