WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - First responders from Palm Beach County, who got up and left their families at a moment's notice to help residents devastated by Superstorm Sandy, returned home on Sunday.
The 42-member team spent two weeks in Long Beach, New York, working around the clock to aid those impacted by Sandy.
They are part of the National Disaster Medical System, a federally coordinated program to assist state and local governments during a major disaster. The program was created in 1984.
Inside the waiting area at Palm Beach International Airport, family members of the Florida-5 Disaster Medical Team paced back and forth as they waited patiently to see their loved ones.
When the wife of Firefighter Scott Lord saw her husband, she broke the "Do Not Enter" barrier to hug him, setting off an alarm in the terminal.
The team took tours of the storm-damaged areas and treated those injured inside medical tents.
They say missing out on Thanksgiving with the family was tough but worth it because they were caring for people in need.
"You know the separation from the family, especially through the holidays, can be a little disheartening. However with that being said, we served a mission where there was probably a greater need for us," said Lord.
When Lord and four other team members landed at PBIA, they were greeted to a water salute by the fire department. As their plane taxied, two fire trucks shot water over the plane to honor the emergency disaster team for their efforts.
Other members of the disaster team arrived home through other South Florida airports. The last group will make the trip home on Monday.