Tennessee Valley fire and rescue crews return home from Texas - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Tennessee Valley fire and rescue crews return home from Texas

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HAMILTON COUNTY, TN (WRCB) -

The strike team made up of first responders from Bradley County, Dallas Bay and East Ridge is back home from Texas. They helped rescue and evacuate people in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.

They arrived home on Wednesday. Many of them are resting from the six day deployment to Texas.

They said they learned some valuable lessons from their time there and are ready to answer the call again if another state needs help.

READ MORE | Fire & rescue crews from Bradley Co., East Ridge and Dallas Bay headed to Texas

Life jackets, helmets, and wet suits are cleaned up and ready to go. It took Tennessee Valley strike team members 19 hours to get home from Houston.

"I still have not had a chance to unpack my own clothes at my house yet. Definitely been an experience," Chief Mike Williams of the East Ridge Fire Department.

East Ridge Fire Chief Mike Williams was part of a state wide team of 91 people.

They knew what they were up against, but once they arrived to Texas, they found out it was a much larger assignment.

"That's when we realized that it wasn't just Houston that saw a lot of flooding. Beaumont, for the biggest part, was completely under water also," Chief Williams said.

Williams said their job was to rescue and evacuate people.

On their way to one of the underwater neighborhoods, they spotted two people stranded.

"If we hadn't had got there when we did, they may have not have survived," Chief Williams said.

Williams and his team members also helped evacuate several dozen others.

He calls this a learning experience. Williams has dealt with flooding in Hamilton County before, but the devastation left by Hurricane Harvey brought new challenges.

"We were kind of going blind into it. When you can't see street signs and you're trying to go off of a GPS because the street signs are underwater. So, you're trying to learn the neighborhood. At the same time, you're trying to locate the area we're supposed to be at. So, that's definitely a task," Chief Williams said.

As the strike team gets some rest, the threat of Hurricane Irma is looming. They said they're ready to grab their gear and head out if they're needed.

"We will not hesitate. If our neighbor asks for assistance, we will send that assistance just as fast as we can," Chief Williams said.

Williams said the team would work up to 16 hours a day depending on their assignment. He also said no one was hurt during the trip.

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