Indiana Task Force 1 responds to 3rd hurricane in a month

(WISH Photo/Tim McNicholas)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH)—For the third time in the past month, Indiana Task Force 1 is responding to a hurricane. Members describe it as their busiest period since 2005.

A team of 27 left Indianapolis Wednesday evening in response to Hurricane Maria. They plan to spend the night in Ohio before the U.S. military airlifts them to Puerto Rico.

The task force is a team of local public safety working who also respond to national emergencies.

Indiana Task Force 1 got a call from FEMA Wednesday morning asking for help. By 2:30 p.m., the emergency responders started packing their bags at the task force headquarters.

On this trip, the team’s goal is to stay light on their feet. They’ll be moving through damaged structures, looking for people who need help and making sure everyone is accounted for.

Tom Neal is a task force manager who just got back from another deployment less than a week ago.

“When it’s occurring, it’s a lot of headaches on the family (of task force members). A lot of stress can be involved,” Neal said. “We have a good network. We have a family support division from the task force that follows up with emails and phone calls to spouses and significant others.”

Neal said those messages can be as simple as: Do you need the lawn mowed? Do you need someone to watch the kids? The task force’s family support network can help in those cases.

Indiana Task Force 1 expects to be gone anywhere from 14 to 21 days.