Missouri Task Force 1 returns from Colorado flooding

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COLUMBIA, MO (KTVI)-- There were hugs, kisses and a few tears as Missouri Task Force 1 members were reunited with their families in Columbia, Mo.

The unit is comprised of rescuers from throughout the state.  Several members are from the St. Louis area.

The 80 member team was deployed to Colorado a little more than a week ago.  They returned Monday after making thousands of rescues during their deployment.

Flash flooding in Colorado wiped out several miles of roads.  The damage separated some residents from basic supplies.  Members of Missouri Task Force 1 used helicopters to reach stranded residents.

"This was not like our Missouri flooding," said Steve Rinehart, Missouri Task Force 1 team leader and assistant chief with the Maryland Heights Fire Protection District.

Another challenge was the terrain.  Missouri Task Force 1 is an urban search and rescue unit.  Members were applying their training to the steep slopes of the Rockies.

"Very treacherous conditions, very dangerous," said Gale Blomenkamp, public information officer for Missouri Take Force 1.

Rinehart predicted some people will not see traffic in their town for six months to a year.  He was assigned to Duke, Co.  The city is located where two rivers meet.

"That town was absolutely devastated," said Rinehart.  "It was crushed."

The mountains added to the force of the water.

"It was like our Missouri flood but tilted at a 45 degree angle," said Rinehart.

Blomenkamp called the 8-day mission a success.

"We were able to make things better for the people of Colorado," Blomenkamp said.  He added that everyone on the task force came back home safe.  "So that in and of itself is a success."

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