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Butler County Response Team returns from hurricane-ravaged Louisiana

Published: Sep. 6, 2021 at 11:06 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 7, 2021 at 5:20 AM EDT
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BUTLER COUNTY, Ohio (WXIX) - The Butler County Response Services Team returned home Sunday, a week after they were deployed to help victims of Hurricane-Ida ravaged Louisiana.

Families eagerly awaited as their loved ones arrived after the long drive from Baton Rouge just before 8 p.m.

All 22 team members made it back safely.

In the week since the category 4 storm made landfall on the 16th anniversary Hurricane Katrina, more than 400,000 people are still without power, according to PowerOutage.US, which tracks outages nationwide.

Some from the Butler County ERS unit went to Louisiana for Katrina as well. They say this storm is just as bad, if not worse, because of the widespread damage.

The destruction from Hurricane Ida is visible across the state, according to Lt. Randy Lambert with the sheriff’s office.

“There were homes that were just completely destroyed,” he said.

“We took care of people’s dogs. Had food and water,” said Hanover Township Fire Chief Phil Clark.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) put the sheriff’s ERS unit on standby the same day Ida made landfall.

The following morning, the team was given the green light to move in.

“Initially the ERS unit was sent down there as a swift water rescue team along with a lot of other teams from around the country,” said Captain Morgan Dallman.

As the water receded, the team changed duties and helped officials assess properties for damages in various parishes (what we call counties here).

“Our task was going to each house in three parishes. We took photographs of the houses, talked to people if we could. (It helps) the residents get the FEMA money a little quicker,” Lt. Lambert said.

Without electricity and gas, he said, that task was even more daunting as they came across some unexpected challenges.

”The heat, some alligators. Just devastation everywhere,” Lt. Lambert said.

“Like the captain said about the electric, you can tell by the number of poles that were laying on the ground. We would have to zig-zag around poles just to get where we were trying to go, so it will be several months.”

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