At the request of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Governor Edmund G. Brown, Jr. has approved the additional deployment of specialized components of Urban Search and Rescue Task Force 2, 3, 6 and 7 (CA-TF2, 3, 6 and 7) through the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) to aid the response to Hurricane Harvey. Now all of California’s state/federal Urban Search and Rescue Task Forces are assisting with operations in Texas or are enroute. Today’s activation deploys the Water Rescue Mission Ready Package elements of the these four teams.
These California specialists in swiftwater and flood rescue will assist emergency operations in and around the hardest hit areas of Texas, conducting search and water rescue operations. The deployment is also coordinated through the FEMA as part of the national response for this incident.
Hurricane Harvey made landfall late Friday on the Gulf Coast. According to the National Hurricane Center in Miami, Harvey was downgraded to a tropical storm due to a drop in wind speeds and storm intensity. Meanwhile, life-threatening and devastating flooding continues to be forecasted along the Texas coast due to heavy rainfall and storm surge. Texas Governor Abbott has declared a state of disaster for 30 Texas counties in anticipation of Harvey making landfall. Some areas are expecting up to 40 inches of rain by Wednesday or Thursday.
CA-TF2 (Los Angeles County Fire Department), CA-TF3 (Menlo Park Fire Department), CA-TF6 (City of Riverside Fire Department) and CA-TF7 (Sacramento City Fire Department), will deploy units, which consists of 14 members Water Rescue Teams each. These teams also contain four motorized boats, trailers, support and command vehicles, along with a cache of supplies to operate for up to 72 hours independently. The deployment may last 14 days.
On Saturday, Governor Brown approved the deployment of CA-TF1(Los Angeles City Fire Department), CA-TF4 (Oakland City Fire Department) and CA-TF8 (San Diego City Fire Department). The Urban Search and Rescue deployments began on Friday as Governor Brown approved the deployment of CA-TF5 (Orange County Fire Authority), which immediately headed to the devastated portions of Texas.
These additional teams are four of the eight State/Federal Urban Search and Rescue Task Forces from parts of California and are highly-specialized search and rescue units that can perform in heavy reinforced masonry structures, handle heavy rigging, specialized search functions and operate in swiftwater/flood environments.
In addition, Cal OES on Friday approved the deployment of 14 personnel as a part of the National Incident Support Team to assist Texas in coordination of Urban Search and Rescue Operations.
Since 1992, California-based Urban Search and Rescue Task Forces have been deployed to a long list of state, national, and international disasters including the 1992 Hurricane Iniki (Hawaii), the 1994 Northridge Earthquake, 1995 Oklahoma City Bombing, 2001 World Trade Center and Pentagon Terrorist Attacks, Hurricane Katrina, the Haiti Earthquake of 2010 and the 2015 Nepal Earthquake.
Cal OES also continues to monitor requests under the Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC) process from the Southern United States region. EMAC, which includes the participation of all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands, is a nationally recognized mutual-aid system that provides the foundation for states to request and send resources across their borders when impacted by a disaster.
A Water Rescue Mission Ready Package includes, but is not limited to:
1 FEMA US&R Water Rescue Team Manager
2 FEMA US&R Water Rescue Squad Officer
2 FEMA US&R Boat Operators
6 FEMA US&R Water Rescue Specialists
1 US&R Logistics Specialists
2 US&R Medical Specialists (ALS Level)
Transportation Vehicle(s) capable of transporting personnel and equipment. 4WD pick-up trucks with extended cab typically used.
Inflatable Rescue Boats and/or hard-bottom, flat bottom “Jon Boats” (boat type selected based on anticipated mission assignment).