PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — It was an emotional reunion as families gathered to welcome back the more than 80 Pennsylvania Task Force One members as they returned home from helping victims of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma in both Texas and Florida.
“It’s tiring being away from your family for a while,” said Rescue Team Manager Jim Kelly with the Philadelphia Fire Department.
Kelly says their urban search and rescue task force rescue team has been away since August 27th sleeping on cots, working long hours, all while in the middle of devastating conditions.
“It was a lot of destruction there, we kind of just helped out and basically looked for cars that were submerged, just to make sure nobody was in them, said Kelly. “Then we went into Florida. we just helped some other task forces search some homes, in the end.”
He says search and rescue is tough work, but the folks they helped made it all worth it.
“People down there, were very generous with us and helped us out and were very, how do I say? Thankful for us being there,” he said.
It’s been said, a heroes’ job is never done.
Some of the men, women and service dogs from the task force are already on their way to Puerto Rico to help with Hurricane Maria, and the ones back home only get a guaranteed 48 hours off work.
Kelly says the first thing he’s going to do is catch up on some eagle’s football.
“I’m going to have a beer, 23 days without a beer that’s first in my line of activities,” he said.
Philadelphia Fire Commissioner Adam Thiel said, “It’s where they want to be. We’re so proud of these folks, with the mission the provided and the service they performed.”
Thiel says for him, this kind of need for help is unprecedented, but no matter where it is, his men and women are ready to help out in a moment’s notice.