The elite urban search and rescue team is based in Dayton, but managed by FEMA and frequently activated for disasters like hurricanes, tornados and the Sept. 11 terror attacks.
“We’ve been training for years for these types of events that all makes it possible to go in and focus on the job and work to get victims out of there,” said Adam Landis, task force leader.
Landis spoke with FOX 8 from the road as more than 80 team members were driving home Wednesday night.
They were mobilized about a week after the June 23 collapse. They had been working 12-hour shifts around the clock the entire time sifting through mounds of twisted steel and concrete using large machinery, high tech equipment and K-9 units.
As of Wednesday, the bodies of more than 97 people had been recovered with more still missing.
“That’s what keeps going through our minds, those individuals. It’s just terrible,” Landis said.
As they left Miami-Dade County, first responders hoisted a large American flag over the interstate for them to say thank you.
Landis said they didn’t expect the touching send-off, but were grateful. Although, more than anything, they’re just grateful they could be of service and help out.
“We were able to provide closure for a lot of families,” Landis said.
The team is expected to arrive in Dayton around 3 p.m. Thursday where they’ll be greeted by Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, their loved ones and other dignitaries.