Colorado Springs firefighters returning home after helping with hurricane relief

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Colorado Springs firefighters who deployed to Texas and Florida with Colorado Task Force One are finally heading home.

Eight CSFD firefighters were flown to the Beaumont area on August 26, after Hurricane Harvey hit. They set up a temporary shelter at a nearby airport, and helped more than 1,500 people in just nine hours.

“It was a tough day in the respect that everybody is coming in, they have everything they own with them,” Lt. Aaron McConnellogue said. “Most people came in with a garbage bag in one hand and a dog or a pet in the other hand, and that was everything that they had, and they were coming in by the busloads to us.”

Crews also helped with search and rescue operations and structural damage assessments.

After 11 days in Texas, the firefighters were on their way home when they got the call asking them to head to Florida. Eleven firefighters flew to Orlando, where they rode out Hurricane Irma before helping those affected. They stayed nine days, helping with everything from humanitarian work to search and rescue and structural assessment.

“It’s been a little bit of an emotional roller coaster, with good days and bad days and they were all hard days,” McConnellogue said. “There were no easy days. That’s for sure.”

McConnellogue said it was his first hurricane experience.

“You think a hurricane’s a hurricane, but just two completely different types of devastation,” McConnellogue said. “From Texas, we’re flooded, we’re walking through water up to our waist or sometimes even up to our chest, to Florida, and just the amount of devastation and the houses gone, boats sitting out in streets and everything imaginable just blown throughout the entire Florida Keys area.”

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