Given the ongoing impacts from Hurricane Harvey, the State of Texas requested additional Swiftwater Rescue support from the State of California. Governor Edmund G. Brown, Jr. authorized the deployment of two additional Swiftwater/Flood Rescue Teams (SF-S&R) through the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) to assist those affected in Texas. The request came through the State to State Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC).
California’s Swiftwater/Flood Rescue teams, which are part of the State’s Fire & Rescue Mutual Aid System, are each comprised of 14 local fire department-based personnel and a command element with specialized capabilities such as inflatable rescue boat handling, flood search methodology, night search operations, mud and debris flow rescue, and specialized tools for locating and rescuing people trapped by flood waters.
The additional two swiftwater teams deployed include:
- SF-S&R10 Ventura County Fire Department
- SF-S&R12 Long Beach City Fire Department
Both teams were activated today with anticipation of a two-week deployment. In addition, Chief Officers from the Fire & Rescue Branch of the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services also deployed with the Teams.
Over the past several days, California deployed eight Urban Search and Rescue Task Forces with water rescue capabilities to Hurricane Harvey. California’s vast response began August 25 when Governor Brown approved the deployment of CA-Task Force 5 (Orange County Fire Authority). The next day, CA-TF1(Los Angeles City Fire Department), CA-TF4 (Oakland City Fire Department) and CA-TF8 (San Diego City Fire Department) were deployed. 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) all deployed units on Sunday.
“California is continuing to support all requests for resources, including personnel, as Hurricane Harvey continues its downpour on Texas and Louisiana,” said Cal OES Director Mark Ghilarducci. “These teams will be a powerful asset to the teams already in the region performing life- and property-saving missions.”
In addition to Urban Search and Rescue and Swiftwater Rescue assets, California has deployed the 129th Para Rescue Unit and RC26 Ariel Reconnaissance Aircraft from the National Guard; two Disaster Medical Assistance Teams and an EMAC/Incident Support Team Specialist.
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.
Hurricane Harvey made landfall on August 25 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 declared a state of disaster for 30 Texas counties in anticipation of Harvey making landfall.
Harvey set a new rainfall record with more than 51 inches in the Cedar Bayou gauge near Highlands, Texas, according to the National Weather Service. The previous record for rainfall in the continental U.S. was 48 inches, also in Texas, during Tropical Storm Amelia in 1978.
Additional Hurricane Harvey resources: