Nebraska Task Force One conducting searches in Puerto Rico

Hurricane Fiona is on the move. After blasting Puerto Rico and hitting Bermuda it is now moving up the Atlantic coast.
Published: Sep. 23, 2022 at 4:27 PM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (WOWT) - A total of 45 firefighters from Omaha, Lincoln and other departments make up a team called Nebraska Task Force 1.

Friday is day three of their efforts in Puerto Rico. They are conducting rapid search operations.

The team is accompanied by a couple of doctors, as well as two search dogs as they look for survivors or anybody affected by the storm in need of help.

They are now based near the airport in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

The group is taking their search orders from FEMA.

Captain Dan Ripley is the task force leader. Friday he spoke with members of the media here in Nebraska by phone.

Ripley says the biggest difficulty is the mountainous terrain in Puerto Rico.

“We’ve encountered mudslides, washed out roads, areas that have massive flooding and that are now receding,” Ripley said. “We’ve had communications challenges but the nice thing about task force is we are equipped to overcome those.”

Ripley says the task force is providing Puerto Ricans with a little bit of hope during these desperate times.

While the team is prepared for at least a two-week mission, FEMA has not told him when they might be clear to return to Nebraska. For now, it’s 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. shifts.