Task Force 1 members return from Arkansas

Three members of Missouri's urban search and rescue team Task Force 1 are back home after a brief deployment to Arkansas to help with tornado relief.

The original call for a full task force to deploy came Sunday night, but a severe weather system in Missouri forced Task Force 1 to decline.

"We were looking at the radar at 10:30, 11, 11:30 on Sunday night...there were some active bands of storms down around the southwest part of the state yet to get into central Missouri," Doug Westhoff, assistant chief with Boone County Fire and program manager and task force leader with Missouri Task Force 1, said.

"We know what the storms can do, we know what weather can do, and as much as I had 80 people that were very willing and very eager to go to Arkansas, we had to decline that mission."

Westhoff was doing a training exercise with Texas' Task Force at the time of the call, and deployed to Arkansas with them. Two other members of Missouri Task Force 1 drove from Missouri to Little Rock, Arkansas; all three arrived Monday.

They were placed on the incident support team, stationed at the air force base in Little Rock. Their job on the deployment was to serve as the liasons between those doing the search and rescue work and those in government roles requesting aid.

Although local and state teams didn't end up needing federal help, meaning the Task Force 1 members never deployed to the disaster site, Westhoff says each deployment is an exercise to bring back home.

"Every time we get the opportunity to participate in this type of event it's a learning experience and we bring those lessons back home and apply them here locally in the event of things that might happen here," he said.

The best way to stay safe during severe weather is to be prepared. See the picture attached to the top of this story for safety tips.