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Nebraska Task Force 1 done in Louisiana, awaiting next direction
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Nebraska Task Force 1 done in Louisiana, awaiting next direction

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Task Force 1 - Louisiana

Members of Nebraska's Task Force 1 urban search and rescue team canvas through storm-ravaged neighborhoods in Louisiana following Hurricane Ida. 

The remnants of Hurricane Ida has dumped historic rain over New York City. At least nine deaths were linked to flooding in the region as basement apartments suddenly filled with water. Freeways and boulevards turned into rivers, submerging cars. Drivers abandoned cars along the Sprain Brook Parkway in Yonkers, as rising waters inundated the roadways overnight.

Nebraska Task Force 1 has wrapped up its work in Louisiana following Hurricane Ida.

But the urban search and rescue team may not yet be done with the massive storm, which dumped historic rains and caused widespread flash flooding in the northeastern U.S. on Wednesday night.

Lincoln Fire and Rescue Battalion Chief Brad Thavenet, who manages the task force, said at a news conference Thursday morning that while the team's mission in Louisiana was complete, it was awaiting direction on whether members would return home to Nebraska or be deployed elsewhere.

Brad Thavenet

Thavenet

Nebraska task force has helped evacuate more than 100 Louisianans after Hurricane Ida

The task force's mission in Louisiana — primarily search-and-rescue operations and secondary searches after first responders covered immediate calls for service — involved the evacuation of two elderly residents Wednesday, on the heels of more than 100 evacuations earlier in the week.

The pair had no means of communications, with cellphone towers in the affected area rendered mostly inoperable. Thavenet said the evacuees were likely running low on food and water at a time when the heat index was very high.

Lincoln rescuer notes mental toll of recovery efforts in Surfside condo collapse

Members of the 40-person team include firefighters from Lincoln Fire and Rescue, the Omaha Fire Department and civilian dog handlers and structural engineers.

Until further direction comes, though, the task force members are relaxing and fulfilling administrative duties.

"Everyone is in good spirits," Thavenet said. "They wanted to help, and they’re kind of bummed out to know their service has ended. … They’re very humbled and very blessed to be able to do that and to represent the folks of Nebraska down there."

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Assistant city editor

John Schreier, an Omaha native and sixth-generation Nebraskan, is an assistant city editor and has worked at the Journal Star since 2017.

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