California Sends Urban Search and Rescue Team Members to Support Emergency Response to Earthquake in Puerto Rico

At the request of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Governor Gavin Newsom through the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) has approved the deployment of four members of California-based Urban Search and Rescue (US&R) Task Forces assigned to a FEMA US&R Incident Support Team to provide assistance as a result of the recent earthquakes in Puerto Rico.  FEMA is also deploying an Urban Search & Rescue Task Force from Miami, Florida (Florida US&R Task Force 2) to Puerto Rico.

According to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) a magnitude 6.4 earthquake struck off the southern coast of Puerto Rico.

The largest of the earthquakes was magnitude 6.4 and was widely felt. According to ShakeMap, strong to very strong shaking occurred across parts of Southern Puerto Rico closest to the event and moderate shaking occurred across the rest of the island.  Over the past several weeks, hundreds of small earthquakes have occurred in the Puerto Rico region, beginning in earnest with a M4.7 earthquake late on December 28. 

The four Californians deploying to Puerto Rico today come from two of the eight California-based state/national Urban Search & Rescue Task Forces:  California US&R Task Force 5 (Orange County Fire Authority) and California US&R Task Force 7 (Sacramento Fire Department).

During this deployment, these US&R-trained professional firefighters will use their highly-developed skills to assist emergency operations in and around the areas affected, including the coordination and support of US&R teams conducting search and rescue operations.

Recently, Cal OES helped coordinate FEMA’s request for deployment of California-based state/national US&R teams and US&R Incident Support Team members to Hurricanes Barry and Dorian.  Since 1992, California-based US&R Task Forces and/or US&R overhead have been deployed to numerous state, national, and international disasters including Hurricane Iniki (1992), the 1994 Northridge earthquake, 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, 2004 Hurricanes Charlie, Frances, and Ivan, 2005 Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, Wilma, and Dennis, 2007 Hurricanes Ike and Gustav, 2008 Hurricane Dolly, 2010 Haiti Earthquake, 2011 Christchurch Earthquake in New Zealand, 2011 Japan Earthquake and Tsunami, 2011 Hurricane Irene, 2012 Hurricane/Super Storm Sandy, the 2014 Oso landslide disaster in Washington State, the 2014 flooding in Colorado, the 2015 Nepal Earthquake, the 2017 Mexico City earthquake, and Hurricanes Earl, Mathew, Harvey, Maria (2017), Irma, lane, Olivia, and Michael.

Cal OES continues to monitor operations and requests for resources for areas impacted by the earthquake in Puerto Rico.

For more information, follow these links: Cal OES Special OperationsCal OES Urban Search & Rescue Task ForcesUSGS, and Cal OES Newsroom.

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Shawn Boyd

Shawn Boyd joined Cal OES as a public information officer in 2014 after a 20-year career in television news as a reporter, anchor and executive producer. He's a Cal State Sacramento alum and former US Navy yeoman and Air Force brat.

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