Help Arrives For Weary Workers - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

02/12/03 - Nacogdoches

Help Arrives For Weary Workers

by Donna McCollum

The Blue Team, an interagency all-risk team will relieve and aid weary workers who have been diligently combing East Texas for pieces of the space shuttle. Members will hit the woods by Friday.

They'll relieve local efforts in the pro active search of Columbia shuttle material.

"We will review and brief with local teams for a day or two. Eventually we'll be at a management level," explained Blue Team spokesman, Frank Beum.

Beum arrived early before the expected 600 members hit town on Thursday.

The Blue Team is comprised of employees from various environmental agencies including the U.S. and Texas Forest Services, National Park Service, and Fish and Wildlife Service.

Assignments throughout the years have been very diverse including wildland fires, hurricanes, floods and other special assignments.

Some Blue Team members may be familiar with Nacogdoches County. Similar teams were called in three years ago to fight the multi thousand acre fire known as the chicken fire near Melrose.

The reason for their call is much different, but the expertise required is much the same.

"We utilize highly trained individuals. They're physically fit and accustomed to working in the woods. Our communication skills range from GPS to radio transmission," said Texas Forest Service spokesman Traci Bowen.

More and more responsibility will be passed off to the blue team, but Sheriff Thomas Kerss will remain to have an active role in the recovery process. He says as long as calls come in the local folks will respond.

The Nacogdoches County Exposition Center will be the staging area exclusively for the Blue Team. County and city workers will be moved to the sheriff's department.

Meanwhile, debris continues to be found. On Wednesday a volatile toxic fuel cell and a uniform patch of one of the crew members were discovered.

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