Local task force team returns home from Harvey, now racing to prepare for Irma

Harvey firefighters pass on tips to prepare for Irma

Florida Task Force 3 and 4 returned home safely from Hurricane Harvey in Houston, only to rush to prepare for Hurricane Irma heading towards Florida.

The team, made up of 50 people total, made it back this week and have 48 hours to rest and prepare for Irma before heading back to work.

Jonathan Blinkey was part of the team that went to Houston and says it’s an experience he will never forget.

"Within a couple days of being there it smelled like you were in a sewer. People don't realize those septic tanks come back up through the toilets.”

The 50 task force members were from Tampa Fire Rescue, Hillsborough County Fire Rescue and St. Petersburg Fire Rescue. Together they helped save hundreds of people and animals.

"The first day I jumped on a roof and saw two labs stuck on a tree. I tried to pull them out and one of them snapped at my finger.”

Blinkey said over the week, he only slept about 32 hours. The team working endlessly to help as many families as possible.

"One woman couldn't physically get out a window. So we took a whole window out and lowered her down onto a boat."

But not all families welcomed the help.

"There were a lot of people that didn't want to go all the way up to shooting at us in the water and telling us to get off their property."

Many of them afraid of looters, not wanting to leave their property.

“Your belongings aren't worth as much as your life."

Blinkey said his family is prepared for Hurricane Irma and even though he only has 48 hours to get everything in order, he is as prepared as he will be. And he expects to get back to work as soon as possible.

© 2017 WTSP-TV


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