Task Force 1 teams still working in Puerto Rico


SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (WDTN) – While Puerto Ricans continue to pick up the pieces in the aftermath of the storm, teams from Ohio and Indiana are still on the ground working to provide help.

Devastation is widespread on the island. The hurricane’s heavy winds tore down power lines and ripped apart buildings.

Nearly two weeks ago, Indiana Task Force 1 left Wright Patterson Air Force Base en route to Puerto Rico. Coordinator Tom Neal says they’ve been working to reach rural communities to see who needs medical assistance or food and water.

“In the larger cities, they are getting power turned back on, so they’re getting water turned back on,” Neal said. “But many of these smaller communities across Puerto Rico are still struggling with power and will be for months because the infrastructure has been destroyed by the hurricane.”

There are three Ohio Task Force 1 members in Puerto Rico, according to spokesman Phil Sinewe.

Neal has a team of 27. He said navigating the terrain has proved difficult.

“Some of these areas are still hard to reach because the island has been hit with several landslides,” he said. In fact one target search we were performing yesterday we couldn’t get through because of a landslide that took out the road.”

Neal said cell phone service is restricted to the main highway where traffic is clogged with people who have pulled over to try and reach loved ones.

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