Missouri Task Force 1 begins return trip to Columbia

Tuesday, November 6, 2012 | 3:10 p.m. CST; updated 8:42 p.m. CST, Tuesday, November 6, 2012

COLUMBIA — Missouri Task Force 1 has completed its mission in New York, and members are on their way home.

They began a two-day return trip to Columbia early Tuesday morning and are scheduled to arrive some time Wednesday evening. The convoy, which includes 12 vehicles, 80 people and more than 100,000 pounds of equipment, plans to stop near Indianapolis tonight, according to Boone County Fire Protection District Battalion Chief Gale Blomenkamp.

While on assignment in New York, Missouri Task Force 1 cleared 4,195 homes, interacted with 3,540 people affected by the superstorm Sandy and covered roughly 34 miles in performing search and rescues throughout their missions in Long Beach, Long Island and Freeport, N.Y., Blomenkamp said.

In addition to search and rescue work, some Missouri Task Force 1 members had to figure out how they could vote in Missouri's election.

After they left for New York on Oct. 30, the administrative staff of the Fire District determined that 66 members from approximately 20 voting districts needed to vote absentee.

Last weekend, absentee ballots were sent to the deployed Task Force 1 members, and the Fire District made arrangements for a notary public to approve the ballots. After voting, Task Force members shipped their ballots overnight to their respective voting districts, Blomenkamp said.

Not all Task Force members received absentee ballots from their voting districts.

"Some people who were looking forward to the opportunity didn't get it, but that's kind of how it goes sometimes," Blomenkamp said.

Blomenkamp said the Fire District contacted the circuit clerk at Fort Dix, N.J., and made arrangements so that those who were unable to vote absentee in Missouri had the opportunity to vote provisionally in the presidential election.

Supervising is Emilie Stigliani.

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