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Taking on the Task

By Thomas Sellers Jr.

This Millington rescue boat was used last week in the recovery efforts in the Northeast after Hurricane Sandy.

Last week Hurricane Sandy slammed the Northeast coast of the United States.

In the aftermath of the Category 1 hurricane, several task forces across the nation were called upon to participate in the rescue operations. Millington made it’s presence felt with the deployment of Battalion Commander Alan Starnes and the department’s 16-foot rescue boot.

“They left Memphis midnight Tuesday and headed to the Northeast,” Millington Fire Department Chief Gary Graves said. “That’s what we’re here for. We support them in that. They’re one of several members that have personnel deployed up there. That expertise is here locally if we need it in an unfortunate situation.

“We’ve got that expertise within our own department to help manage that type of stuff too,” he added. “When it comes like that, we don’t have any boundaries. We need to help out and reach out.”

The Tennessee Task Force One left for Virginia the night of Oct. 29. Then some firefighters from Tennessee also joined a group out of Missouri to be deployed. The target areas for the rescue teams were New Jersey-Delaware where Sandy produced the most damage.

The task force from the Volunteer State was one of 28 from across the nation as part of the Urban Search and Rescue Teams under the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Department of Homeland Security.

It was the grants from Homeland Security that helped the Millington Fire Department obtain the rescue boot. Flag City was seen to have a need for the vessel after the May Day Flood of 2010.

“Our city experienced that two years ago with the flooding,” Graves recalled. “We know what they’re going through with the rescue part of it, what is occurring. The recovery effort it going to be long term as we know here.”

Graves and the task force formed back in 2010 kept Millington residents safe and there were no fatalities. But the flood caused millions of dollars in damages to homes and businesses. Graves said after the task forces protect the lives of residents in the Northeast, the long recovery process begins.

“We’re two and half years removed from our flood,” he said. “We’ve still got some people in the final stage of recovery. We know it’s going to be a long, tedious process for them. Compounded by the fact they’re getting into the winter months. Our thoughts and prayers are definitely with them up there.”

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