Leading the way, the men and women of Tennessee Task Force One heroically traveled to help the victims at the heart of super-storm Sandy. Back at home these volunteers are first responders and neighbors. But when disaster strikes, they head toward the damage and destruction.
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"Somebody's family pictures washed up. That's what's so sad about these things. They lose those things," says Memphis firefighter Sue McManus.
McManus has seen it before. She and her search and rescue dog, Ty, have been on the Task Force for close to a decade.
Tennessee Task Force One wound up helping in a Long Island neighborhood badly damaged by Sandy's wrath. The people there made it through the storm, but their homes are waterlogged, with furniture, toys, and heirlooms destroyed.
Many New Yorkers are struggling, but just seeing the Task Force from the Mid-South in their neighborhood is a psychological boost. It shows them that people from around the country care.
Days after the storm, people are running out of food, out of drinking water, and are powerless as the temperature begins to drop.
The Task Force is offering their own food and water supply and tracking what these neighbors need so they can send more help.
Sometimes, just listening to the survival stories can help.
Tennessee Task Force One set up in a Long Island New York High School with urban search and rescue teams from around the country.
Their trucks carry everything they could possibly need, allowing them to be self-sustaining.
The Memphis group is made up of firefighters and paramedics from five Shelby County Departments. They have search and rescue dogs and handlers to help in the field.
Civilian engineers look after the gear and equipment. Two doctors, a trauma surgeon and a pediatrician, along with paramedics and EMT, are there for medical support.
Memphis firefighter Leland Hopkins is leading a squad of rescuers. Some of them have been working missions like this since the team was formed in 1996.
They're usually responding to storms in Florida and on the Gulf Coast. This time, they're dealing with temperatures near freezing. The damage looks more like a flood.
Going door to door, the squad found an elderly woman with dementia who was home alone and hungry. The team checked her out, prepared her some hot food, and contacted her family. It's what Tennessee Task Force One is there to do.
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