Miami search-and-rescue crews return from Keys to heroes’ welcome

MIAMI (WSVN) - South Florida rescuers came back home to a heroes’ welcome, Sunday, days after they answered the call for help from residents in the Florida Keys.

Search-and-rescue crews with the City of Miami were greeted with cheers as they made their return from the Keys, where they’d been working to help residents hit hardest by Hurricane Irma.

“Our mission was to go down to Key West and to help find any survivors that were there, getting immediate medical attention to them and evacuate them and getting them the proper care that they needed,” said Miami Fire Rescue Assistant Fire Chief Scott Dean.

Family and friends lined the streets outside the Miami Fire Rescue Headquarters as they anxiously awaited the arrival of their loved ones.

7News cameras captured Miami Fire Rescue Capt. Peter Darley as he reunited with his loved ones.

“I’m extremely happy, but I think my son is a little happier,” said Darley’s wife.

“He’s my dad, and I love him,” said one girl shortly after she reunited with her father.

The happy reunions were a welcome change of pace after days of dealing with devastation in the Keys. “It was a lot of hard work. We covered about 4,500 houses, so we covered a lot of ground,” said Darley. “Long days, very little sleep. It was tiring, I was missing my family, and I’m glad to be back home.”

“You go to the keys for leisure, vacation, for fun, and to see all these little islands that compose the Keys completely devastated really was shocking,” said Miami Fire Rescue Firefighter Carlos Constanzo.

Many task force members have been out on the road since Hurricane Harvey slammed South Texas. These missions were all made possible by teams who’ve been working tirelessly to lend a helping hand, or in some cases, a paw.

“Our mission was, if there were any collapsed buildings or structures, that maybe there was somebody alive in there, we would run the dog who can tell really quick if there was someone still alive,” said Lybbi Kienzle with Canine Search and Rescue.

They’re now being hailed as heroes for their selfless efforts. “It’s amazing to see everyone’s families here,” said Dean. “It was well-deserved. It was very hard on this one, because they had their own impacts here at home and still had to leave to go do their missions, so I am very proud of this group today.”

In Doral, Miami-Dade Fire Rescue crews also experienced a heroes’ arrival from family and friends after weeks away from home.

“Basically, they have been away for almost a month from their families, working these different deployments,” said Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Lt. Scott Mullin, “but this is what we train for. This is what we specialize in.”

The homecoming was short-lived for members of Miami Fire Rescue’s task force. A team is being deployed to Puerto Rico to help residents there ahead of Hurricane Maria.

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