HAMPTON ROADS, Va. – Dozens of first responders from Hampton Roads continue to help in the search effort in Florida to find missing bodies.
CBS reports that efforts in Surfside, Florida, have switched from rescue efforts to a recovery operation, with 60 dead and 80 unaccounted for.
According to Virginia Task Force 2, 80 highly trained firefighters, engineers, physicians and others from agencies across Hampton Roads are entering their second week on the ground near Miami where the condo partially collapsed on June 24.
Virginia Task Force 2 leader Jim Ingledue said searching for the missing can be an emotional experience and rewarding to help the families.
Ingledue said they are also searching for possessions of those who were lost.
“There are picture albums and books and just any number of things you could look around your home yourself, and you can imagine, things that are found that would be precious to the families,” said Jim Ingledue.
Over the years, News 3 has traveled with the Task Force to major catastrophes like Hurricane Opel in 1995 and the Oklahoma City bombing.
The group responded to 9/11, Hurricane Katrina and many other storms along the East Coast.
“I spend a lot of time thinking about the families and the tragedy and just how very, very unfortunate it is,” said Ingledue.
They are not sure when they will return from this deployment; they said it will possibly be another week.
They are working around the clock and dealing with Florida heat, humidity and rain from Elsa as they work to get answers for families and the community.
“When a victim is found, it's not pleasant work and I don't care who you are - it takes an emotional toll on you,” said Ingledue.
But he said it's rewarding to be helping those impacted.
According to the Virginia Task Force 2 website, the National Urban Search and Rescue System was established under the authority of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in 1989, and it is a framework for structuring local emergency service personnel into integrated disaster response task forces.
It states Virginia Task Force 2 is a specialized rescue organization comprised of highly trained firefighters, technical rescue technicians, medical professionals, canine handlers, engineers and physicians from various cities and departments located throughout the region such as Virginia Beach, Chesapeake, Portsmouth, Franklin, James City County, Navy Regional, Newport News, Norfolk, Hampton, Williamsburg, Henrico County and York County.