Missoula, MT (KGVO-AM News) - The Missoula County All-Hazards Incident Management Team returned to Missoula on Sunday after helping with the response to Hurricane Ian in the town of North Port, Florida.

KGVO News spoke to DES Coordinator Nick Holloway and Assistant Fire Chief for the Missoula City Fire Department Brad Davis who shared their experiences while helping with hurricane response in Florida.

Credit: Peter Christian
Credit: Peter Christian

Holloway identified the team members that spent 18 days in Florida.

“Ken Parks was the incident commander out of the Office of Emergency Management,” began Holloway. “We had Steve Mollenhoff, also a communications person who helped in logistics and operations and public information out of the Office of Emergency Management. We had Brad Davis in planning operations out of Missoula Fire. Chris Kovatch, logistics section chief of Missoula Fire, Ron Brunnnell, our planning section chief out of Missoula Fire, we had Amy Shrenk, our finance section chief out of the sheriff's office here in Missoula County; Rob Taylor as a liaison out of the sheriff's office and Casey Williams, from Yellowstone County, joined us as the Deputy Incident Commander as well.”

Chief Davis said the team didn’t quite make it to North Port before Hurricane Ian arrived.

“We originally got dispatched to try to get there to pre-position prior to the landfall of the hurricane,” said Davis. “We were arriving the day the hurricane made landfall, so we flew into the Atlanta airport, and as we were landing our plane I believe, right about simultaneously, the hurricane was making landfall in Florida.”

Davis described the first days of the Missoula team’s response in North Port.

“Operationally, as we arrived shortly after a storm hit land,” said Davis. “The city of North Port was still in what we call response mode, so they were still doing rescues by boat and in high water vehicles. We were transporting individuals to shelters, taking them from their homes in impacted areas. There was a large-scale evacuation ordered for the city of North Port due to the flood that came a few days after the hurricane hit.”

Davis said it was good to land back home in Missoula on Sunday.

“I was glad to come home, absolutely,” he said. “As we have day jobs here, we're fortunate that the city and the other departments in the county allow us to go there and bring back this valuable information to better serve our community. We met some very wonderful people over there. The city of North Port was very welcoming. We made some great relationships over there, and we were able to help them and their time of need, so we’re just really feeling proud of our team and the accomplishments that we made over there. We hope to do that again someday or then even possibly ask to return the favor if needed.”

Holloway and Davis also were able to meet Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and provide a tour for him and his staff via airboat of the affected area.

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