VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — Families gathered outside the Virginia Beach Fire Training facility on Saturday evening to welcome home their loved ones after a deployment to help those affected by Hurricane Ida.
They watched with excitement as several semi-trucks with Virginia Task Force 2 Urban Search and Rescue (VA-TF2) written on the side drove past until finally – a charter bus appeared.
Around 45 members of the task force were on board coming home a week after they’d left for Lousiana to help with Hurricane Ida rescue efforts. The group is made up of everyone from firefighters to physicians.
According to Virginia Beach Fire Chief Daryl Funioak, the team checked on around 399 people who were sheltered in place.
Task Force leader Mike Hopkins says they evacuated 25 people, but recalls one of the rescues made in an interview with 10 On Your Side.
“One lady, she was run out of oxygen, was having difficulty breathing,” said Hopkins. “We were able to retrieve her oxygen generator with her. Brought that back out with us, we were able to get that restarted and get oxygen to her.”
VA-TF2 found themselves focused on Hammond, Louisiana, a city 45 miles east of Baton Rouge and 45 miles northwest of New Orleans.
“Down power lines, a lot of downed trees. Recorded gusts through there came in around 105 – 110 miles per hour… it was a pretty dangerous area,” said Hopkins.
Despite the obstacles, he’s incredibly proud of his team and their families.
“I really wanna thank the family and friends of our team because without their support we wouldn’t be able to do this. And the citizens of the cities we work for… because of them, we’re able to go down and help the citizens of Louisiana.”