A group of Ohio first responders expect to return home tomorrow after a week of aiding residents of the New York City area affected by Hurricane Sandy.
Ohio Task Force One will be one of the last units to depart Fort Dix, N.J., said Westerville firefighter Nick Jones, a Task Force One member. The group departed Ohio Oct. 29.
In the week since the area was struck by the hurricane, the 80 members of Ohio Task Force One worked in and around the New York City area, checking on residents in their homes and providing food, water and blankets.
Members of the task force also helped to set up a logistical distribution system for the area, said Dan Kochensparger, a public information officer for both the Upper Arlington Fire Division and Ohio Task Force One.
“Those who were at Fort Dix Saturday evening off-loaded their box trucks to allow the pickup trucks and vans to convoy to Brooklyn and link up with other task force personnel who flew there by helicopter earlier on Sunday morning,” Kochensparger said. “Once on the ground, OH-TF1 (Ohio Task Force One) personnel transferred bulkloads of MREs (military ready to eat meals) water, blankets, cots, etc. from tractor trailers to the box trucks.
“They then drove to designated POD (point of distribution) areas in the Coney Island area. Personnel spent the day going door-to-door and offering these supplies to those in need.”
Jones, a former Florida resident who is no stranger to the destruction of hurricanes, said he was surprised by the damage he saw while serving with Task Force One.
“It was amazing, the water lines. You could see the water lines in people’s houses, chest high. A lot of people lost the first floor of their houses,” Jones said. “I’m used to handling emergencies and doing emergency response, but to see it on such a large scale was incredible.”
The work of Task Force One was appreciated by the residents, Jones said, and one community sent the Ohio unit a thank-you card signed by many of its residents.
“It was a good feeling to know that you really helped someone there,” he said. “We accomplished our mission.”