Steamboat residents deployed to Puerto Rico to aid hurricane recovery |

Steamboat residents deployed to Puerto Rico to aid hurricane recovery

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Federal employees from the Steamboat Springs area are helping with hurricane recovery efforts in Puerto Rico.

U.S. Forest Service District Ranger Chad Stewart, based in Steamboat, will board a plane in Denver Wednesday night and head to the Puerto Rico as a member of the regional Type-1 Rocky Mountain Incident Management Team.

Type-1 teams are trained to work at large incidents, and Stewart, with his firefighting background, is certified as a safety officer.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency requested four Type-1 incident management teams work in Puerto Rico for 14 days, but the Rocky Mountain team was the only one that could fill its ranks, Stewart said.

Stewart said there were no other safety officers available, and admittedly, he did not want to go because it would mean missing Halloween with his kids.

"I'm not going to keep 20 people from going on an assignment," Stewart said.

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The team is headed to the convention center in San Juan with the mission to "assist FEMA and Puerto Rico develop long-term plans to assist with the response and recovery effort."

"I think it's going to be more planning than operations," Stewart said. "They still have a long way to go, and it's a lot of infrastructure development."

Stewart's brother, who lives in Florida and is in the U.S. Air Force, recently returned from a mission in Puerto Rico.

"It's become a family affair all of the sudden," Stewart said.

Stewart said his brother told him that he should not need to bring his own supplies but a satellite phone was a good idea.

Another federal employee and local resident, Ty Bricker, recently returned from a deployment to Puerto Rico.

Bricker, who is a law enforcement officer with the Forest Service, supported search and rescue operations and protected supplies.

To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247, email or follow him on Twitter @SBTStensland.