Rescuers from Ohio return after Harvey, on standby for Irma

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CLEVELAND-- A team of Ohio first responders just home from helping with water rescues in Houston, could be headed to Florida. The unit is now on standby in case they are needed after Hurricane Irma makes landfall.

The team, based in Dayton, left for Houston in the early morning hours of Aug. 25. It includes 49 members, including a handful from Northeast Ohio, all specially trained to rescue people in tough situations.

Euclid Fire Capt. Chris Caimi shared these photos of scenes in and around Houston shortly after Harvey swamped the entire region with water nearly two weeks ago.

"The hardest rain I've ever seen in my entire life. I would say it was 10 times worse than anything I could have expected rain wise," Caimi said.

Caimi said as soon as his team arrived, they immediately got to work.

"There was a man that got swept under three bridges and he was hanging onto a tree. So we had to go rescue him immediately, but right from the beginning it was a kind of a go, go, go situation," he said.

Some task force members rescued elderly people trapped in a nursing home. Caimi said he and his colleagues were too busy to think about the dangers they were facing too.

"Just like another day at the fire house, you're not fearful at the time. You kind of look back and reflect, you kind of think, 'Wow, that was kind of a dicey situation,' but at the time, you rely on your training, you rely on all the training we do in Dayton every other month," he said.

Caimi said he saw first hand how much help the people in Houston still need.

Ohio Task Force One left Houston two days ago. Caimi just returned to Northeast Ohio Wednesday afternoon. But Hurricane Irma could send them back into harm's way.

"We didn't get diverted obviously to the Florida area, but we're still on standby and waiting to hear about Irma and they could deploy us at any moment," said the captain.

Caimi said the gratitude he gets from helping people makes the tough job well worth it.

"People that were tearing all their stuff out of the house and putting it on the tree lawn to get thrown away, were the first ones to come up to us as were driving by and say, 'Thank you, thanks for coming from Ohio,'" he said.

The other members from Northeast Ohio include firefighters from Green, New Franklin and Ravenna.

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