Missoula, MT (KGVO-AM News) - After extending their time in North Port, Florida, responding to the devastation of Hurricane Ian, the Missoula County All-Hazards Incident Management Team will finally be returning home this weekend.

Missoula Incident Team Update

Communications Director Nick Holloway called into the KGVO Newsmakers Line on Thursday with an update.

“We've shifted from ‘response mode’ into full-on ‘recovery mode’,” said Holloway. “That means the operational tempo has slowed quite a bit. We were doing response mode get making sure people had the lifelines they need food, shelter, and water. We've got the power restored. Now in recovery mode, the primary concern is getting debris picked up and people registered for disaster assistance. So that's where we're at today.”

Asked what important lessons the team has learned during their time of service in Florida, Holloway said they have gained a great deal of institutional knowledge regarding disaster recovery.

“I think this time I myself, have learned a lot more about the way FEMA operates and how long it takes them to get up and running,” he said. “Actually, it’s not a long time at all. It's pretty quick, but it seems long maybe to some of the folks impacted by the disaster, but understanding what their programs are and what they offer people and on the state side, what the State offers and what the local locals offer is a big deal.”

North Port, Florida Slowly Returning to Life

The community is slowly coming back to life, and Holloway said his crew is assisting in that effort.

“Getting the lifelines to people quickly, obviously is a huge deal with food and shelter and water and power,” he said. “We learn how to do that more efficiently every time we do it and every community does it a little differently, so you see the many ways it's done. So it really is a big learning experience every time you come down and do something like this.”

Holloway said the spirit of the North Port community is in pretty good shape more than two weeks past Hurricane Ian.

Team to Wrap up and Head Home This Weekend

“At large, they're doing pretty well,” he said “They understand what where they're at and where they are trying to get to. They know that sorting debris and picking up debris is a huge deal and that it's going to take a little while to get to everybody. We're picking up something in the order of 40,000 cubic yards (of hurricane debris) a day, which is about 400 dump truck loads. So you know what, as long as they see progress, they're doing pretty well. And that's where we are today.”

Holloway said the team’s last work day will be Saturday, their 19th day of service in Florida, and then they will travel home to Missoula on Sunday.

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