The Woodward News

May 20, 2013

Woodward County fire departments send assistance to Moore

Rowynn Ricks
Woodward News

Woodward, Okla. — A search and rescue task force from Woodward County was deployed to help assist with the response to the devastating tornado that ripped through Moore and south Oklahoma City Monday afternoon.

Matt Lehenbauer, director of the Woodward County Office of Emergency Management, said that the task force includes vehicles and personnel "from all 5 Woodward County fire departments, including Woodward, Fort Supply, Sharon, Mutual and Mooreland."

Altogether the county crews sent around 25 firefighters in 8 vehicles, including 3 SUVs and 5 pickups, some of which were loaded down with equipment such as saws and hydraulic rescue gear.

"We're taking everything we can spare as far as rescue equipment," Lehenbauer said.

"Search and rescue will be our mission," he said, noting that the firefighters from Woodward County will be helping to search through ruble for victims of the storm.

"There's just a shortage of first responders in a situation like this where schools have been hit and children are trapped and homes have been leveled," he said.

One of the first units to respond was "one of the firefighters in Mutual (whose) daughter's house was destroyed" as part of the storm, Lehenbauer said.

The other fire departments dispatched their units after gathering their own gear and personnel and assembling at Woodward to travel down to Moore together as one group.

The emergency manager said Woodward County's search and rescue task force units would stay and help with response efforts "as long as we're needed."

In addition to the search and rescue teams, Lehenbauer said that the Woodward County Office of Emergency Management will also be responding to the scene.

"As emergency management, we will respond to the state EOC (Emergency Operations Center) to help with the logistics," he said.