80 Virginia Task Force Team 2 members return home from mission in South Carolina

Posted at 10:12 PM, Oct 11, 2015
and last updated 2015-10-12 06:42:55-04

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - After 1,244 miles on the ground, 110 miles by air, and 12 miles on the water in South Carolina, 80 men and women with Virginia Task Force Team 2 are back home.

The specialized rescue group is made up of firefighters across Hampton Roads, along with canine handlers, doctors, engineers, and public works officials. They were alerted by FEMA on October 2nd that they would have to help in the flood-devastated areas, and on October 5th, they left.

It's the first disaster they have had to go to in three years.

"We were walking, going door-to-door, checking on people making sure people were safe needing any medications or anything," says Lisa Berry, a volunteer canine handler.

The group started their first mission on the ground in Richland County which is in the Columbia area. Their second mission was in Dorchester County by water.

The canines did not participate in the water missions in order to save room on the boat.

"They have two jobs, the one they are trained to do and the one they end up doing, they sort of end up being a therapy dog," says Berry.

According to the task force, the group visited 1,988 homes and marked 4,850 waypoints which are marks that identify some of the damage including road closures, flooding, and hazardous materials.

"You see what Mother Nature can do in such a short amount of time and just totally ruin someone's life, just like that," says Darrell Denton, a task force member and Virginia Beach firefighter.

After a week of their lives dedicated to communities two states away, members told NewsChannel 3 they are tired, but it's what they live for.

"Great people going out there, gelling together, a great team," says Vance Cooper, task force leader. "We helped a lot of people out there."