At the request of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Governor Edmund G. Brown, Jr. has approved the additional deployment of Urban Search and Rescue Task Force 1, 4 and 8 (CA-TF1, 4, 8) through the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) to aid the response to Hurricane Harvey.
During the deployment, California personnel to assist emergency operations in and around the hardest hit areas of Texas, conducting search and rescue operations. The deployment details are coordinated through the FEMA to integrate into the national response for this incident.
Hurricane Harvey made landfall late Friday on the Gulf Coast. According to the National Hurricane Center in Miami, Flo., Harvey has 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 near 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-TF1 (Los Angeles City Fire Department) and CA-TF4 (Oakland City Fire Department) are deploying as Type-I State/National Urban Search & Rescue Task Forces, which consist of 70 members and an additional 10 ground support personnel. CA-TF8 (San Diego City Fire Department) is deploying as a Type-III State/National Urban Search and Rescue (US&R) Task Force, which consists of 35 members with an additional 10 ground support personnel. The deployment may last 14 days.
These teams are three of the eight State/Federal US&R Task Forces in California that 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. On Friday, California also sent CA-TF5 from Orange County Fire Authority by ground to Texas to assist in the ongoing response.
In addition, Cal OES has approved the deployment of 14 Overhead Management personnel as a part of the National Incident Support Team to assist Texas in coordination of US&R Operations.
Since 1992, California-based US&R Task Forces have been deployed to a long list of state, national, and even international disasters including the 1992 Hurricane Iniki (Hawaii), the 1994 Northridge Earthquake, 1995 Oklahoma City Bombing, Hurricane Katrina 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.