GRAND PRAIRIE, Texas - Members of the Texas Task Force 2 were reunited with their families Thursday afternoon returning home from rescue efforts in Southeast Texas.
The task force based in Dallas is credited with making hundreds of rescues southwest of Houston. There's a good chance some of those rescued have passed through the doors of the Dallas mega shelter.
The two-week stint took the 70 members to the hardest hit areas of South Texas, where they rescued hundreds of people and helped thousands more in need. Members say it was rewarding work but not without sacrifice.
Brandon Keith was missing his wife, Mallory, and his 9-month-old son.
"It was harder than I expected,” the North Richland Hills firefighter said.
“We're glad that he is home,” Mallory said. “But we know they needed him down there more than we needed him."
Brandon says it was a rewarding experience.
"Can't say enough about the people down there. They were just very hospitable, very appreciative,” he said. “Everybody was helping everybody. It was really great."
The task force is comprised of volunteers from nearly 30 different North Texas agencies and mostly firefighters.
"Just seeing the amount of destruction in Rockport and seeing the amount of water in Fort Bend County was something that I won't forget,” said Brian Luyster with the Lewisville Fire Department.
Rockport was the first place the team deployed.
"During that two day period, we searched well over 2,000 buildings in 20 square miles of an impact zone,” explained Travis County Fire Chief Ken Bailey.
The team was then directed to Fort Bend County and helped rescue hundreds of people trapped in flooded homes.
Bailey says recovery will take time, psychically and emotionally.
"It's heartbreaking. These people have lost many time everything they have,” he said. “There's a lot of anxiety for not just the here and now but over a period of days. They have no water. They have no septic. They have no power, and they've lost everything."
But for these task force members, it's a calling.
"It's extremely rewarding,” said Chief Wade Walker with Dallas Fire-Rescue. “I mean it gives you a good feeling."
Texas Task Force 2 has a total of 210 members broken into three groups: the red, white and the blue.
The red team returned home Thursday. The white team is standing ready should the governor call them into action to help Florida with Hurricane Irma.