Missouri Task Force 1 members deployed to Arkansas

Monday, April 28, 2014 | 10:38 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — Three members of Missouri Task Force 1 have been sent to Little Rock, Ark., after Sunday's tornado struck nearby Vilonia and killed at least 15 people.

"They are on the ground and prepared, just in case the local jurisdiction is unable to handle it," said Gale Blomenkamp, battalion chief for the Boone County Fire Protection District, which oversees the task force.

The task force will join the incident support team in the area if the Federal Emergency Management Agency formally requests assistance.

Missouri's task force members are staging from the Little Rock Air Force Base, he said. One member is a structural specialist who inspects damaged buildings to make sure they are safe for search and rescue crews.

Missouri Task Force 1 is among 28 FEMA-designated urban search and rescue teams, which specialize in responding to collapsed buildings, according to the task force's website.

Texas Task Force 1 and support teams from FEMA are currently in control of the situation, with an additional team from Nebraska also on alert, according to a FEMA media release.

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