Missouri Task Force One On Hurricane Harvey Relief Efforts

Sep 18, 2017

Families wait with signs for members of the Missouri Task Force One team to arrive home from Texas.
Credit Hannah Haynes

KBIA's Hannah Haynes spoke with Missouri Task Force One's Terri Cassel about his and his team's experience working in Texas with Hurricane Harvey relief efforts.


Can you tell me a little bit about the Task Force, like the different moving parts and how they all work together when you guys go somewhere like Texas?

Well there's the part that everyone sees, the blue uniforms that we have on. But there's an army of folks that logistically get us ready to go long before we ever leave and make sure the cash is ready and everything else. And then while we're gone there's folks back here at Boone County Fire that are logistically helping us with the things we need and also making sure that our families are safe if we have any problems at home.

I mean just because we're gone doesn't mean that things don't happen at our homes and on our jobs and those sorts of things so they support us and help us out with that and make sure that families are taken care of, that they're checked on, that the families get updates, that families know. Because many times we don't have cell service

And how many times have you personally been deployed to a different area in the country to help out with relief?

I've been deployed five times with Missouri Task Force One.

What places have you been to?

Let's see. Joplin, Missouri for the tornado. Hurricane Sandy. The flooding in Colorado. Let's see... to southeast Missouri for the flooding that happened this year. And then also with this Hurricane Harvey.

Can you talk about what did you see down in Texas?

Well I think the thing for me was the, the only thing I've ever witnessed here in Missouri that was like this was the '93 flood. Everything was flooded, and that's the way it was there. Everything was flooded. I think for myself, I did not realize that Houston is the fourth largest city in the United States. So there's just millions of people that were affected by this storm, and of no fault of theirs. I think it's just the sheer magnitude of the area and how many people are in that area was the thing that, because it kind of reminded me of the '93 flood times 50 because of the people that were affected by that so that's the only way that I can kind of say that to relate it to anything we've experienced here would be the '93 flood. 3:08

And what kind of things were you guys able to do? Like as far as helping what was Missouri Task Force One specifically able to bring to the table?

Well we were actually attached with the Houston fire department and augmenting their efforts. They didn't have enough boats, they didn't have enough people because they were just overwhelmed by the sheer situation. They're affected themselves. Their homes, their fire stations were flooded, many of that. So we were able to help them. 3:34 We did boat operations to bring people out of homes that water was up, they were in the second floor, sometimes when we were able to pick those people up and bring them out. Just bringing folks out, getting them to collection points so that they could get to shelters where they could be safe and be fed and have a dry place to be.