Storm damage cleanup effort begins

Members of the California Task Force 5 (CA TF-5) unloaded some of their equipment at Philpott Lake. (Contributed photo)

Local residents ventured out Monday to access the damage after Tropical Storm Florence pummeled Patrick and adjacent areas over the weekend with heavy rainfall that resulted in localized flooding, roads littered with debris and other destruction.

Hope Roberts, of Dry Pond, said a driveway belonging to her parents, Mack and Shirley Bowman, washed out after a culvert became stopped up and unable to drain properly.

Roberts said her mother was scheduled for knee surgery in Roanoke on Monday. The driveway cracked under the weight of the family’s vehicle when her parents left home for the procedure.

She estimated there was a foot clearance on either side of the vehicle, and added that the family also is dealing with the loss of telephone service.

Roberts said her family as other residents braced for impacts from the slow moving storm that was downgraded from a Category 1 hurricane after making landfall near Wilmington, N.C.

Sixteen members of the California Task Force 5 (CA TF-5) were dispatched to Patrick County to help.

The CA TF-5 is one of 28 FEMA Urban Search and Rescue Task Forces, and one of eight Task Forces, in California to respond as a FEMA or California OES resource during emergencies like hurricanes and floods, according to Shane Sherwood, plans team manager.
Sherwood was among those staged locally, along with other team members that included a logistics task force leader and rescuers that specialize in different areas.
With a total of four boats and two different styles, the team can “respond in different configurations” as needed, including standing and swift water rescue, he said.
The team left California at 1:30 a.m. on Tuesday with their equipment in tow, arriving in Meadows of Dan at 5 p.m. Thursday, Sherwood said. They spent much of Friday familiarizing themselves with the county, he said.
While in Patrick, the task force members stayed in the Meadows of Dan Volunteer Fire Department/Vesta Volunteer Rescue Squad building, but visited several other squads/fire departments.

Sherwood said local residents treated the team well, providing food and other necessities.
The CA TF-5 remained in the area until the threat passed, with plans to return home or head further south to help other storm ravaged areas, depending on the need, Sherwood said.

Emergency Management Coordinator Steve Allen requested the task force from the state office of emergency management.


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