Calera rescue team returns home after week of work

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 7, 2005

&uot;It’s just heartbreaking.&uot;

Those were the best words Calera firefighter Jason Edmondson could find to describe the scenes he saw as part of a rescue team that returned from Mississippi Friday night.

&uot;It’s not just your house or job that’s missing,&uot; he said. &uot;On top of that half of your family is missing.&uot;

Edmondson was part of a rescue team compiled of four Calera city firefighters and four Calera police officers. The group was notified Aug. 29, the day after Katrina hit, and left for Mobile just hours later.

&uot;We were originally assigned to Mobile as a swift water rescue team,&uot; firefighter Daryl Ray said. &uot;But when we got down there, the water had already gone down.&uot;

So the rescue team had to wait for their next assignment, spending an anxious night in Mobile unsure of where they might be heading the next day.

Their destination turned out to be Gulfport, Miss., one of the hardest hit areas on the Gulf Coast.

After arriving in Mississippi, the team was assigned to go door-to-door and search for both survivors and victims of the storm.

&uot;We knocked on doors, and if we had any suspicion that there was somebody inside or a body inside, we would break the door in and get access to the home,&uot; Ray said.

For many members of the team, the work never seemed to stop.

&uot;From the time we got down there, we were really working from dawn until dusk,&uot; Edmondson said.

On Aug. 31, the rescue team located three survivors of the storm.

The group was unable to evacuate before the storm hit because of traffic and rode out Katrina in their home.

Ray said it was uplifting to find survivors amid the destruction, but he said the team also located seven bodies during the next two days.

The rescue team returned home Friday night, and Ray said while it was good to be home with his family, he hated leaving Mississippi with so much work left to be done.

&uot;It was good to see our families, of course,&uot; he said. &uot;But we hated coming home. We were so glad to just be able to help out.&uot;

The Calera rescue team was made up of police officers Clint Barrett, Scott Walker and Mike Dunklin and firefighters Ross Mixon, Ryan Tallie and Edmondson and Ray.

Ray said the city of Calera is in the process of checking to see if sending another rescue team down to the Gulf Coast would be necessary or helpful.

He said another team was already prepared to head south once they got the call