NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — They have been in the thick of the downtown destruction since Christmas and now members of the Urban Search & Rescue team are sharing what they’ve seen firsthand.
“It is surreal, it is devastating,” Captain Doug Pinkerton told News 2.
“Some of the worst wreckage you can think of is what, that’s what it looks like,”
Special Operations member Dustin Cunningham added.
Both Pinkerton and Cunningham have been with the Nashville Fire Department for nearly two decades, today they are specialists with the state’s Urban Search & Rescue Task Force, facing some of the most horrific destruction is part of the job.
“Usually hurricane deployments (I’ve) been on probably 10 to 12 of those, so a lot of devastation,” said Cunningham.
This job he says though is unlike any he’s worked before.
Pinkerton explained, “Although here it’s concentrated in one area the devastation is still the same. Very sad, hard to see people’s lives that are basically you know in shambles.”
They are there as the victims see the damage firsthand.
“You know you can sit and watch, you know look at photos and watch videos and whatever and it just doesn’t measure up to actually seeing it in person,” said Pinkerton.
They’ve sifted through the rubble inside buildings deemed too dangerous for others to enter.
“We have a flag that came out of the boutique store up here that’s tattered pretty bad, but we were able to get it back to the owner so that was good,” explained Cunningham.
The flag, a symbol of unity, holds a special place in the hearts of these two who are both part of the Firefighter Honor Guard.
“It means a lot, it’s what we stand for,” stated Cunningham.
A large American flag now hangs in the midst of the recovery efforts giving these first responders pride to get through the darkest of days.
“Nashville is very strong we’ve proven that throughout tornadoes, the 2010 flood. Everybody pulls together and we will get through this, we’ve gotten through the pandemic so far and we will pull together and we will pull strong,” said Pinkerton.