Photo: National Weather Service Ocean Prediction Center

California Sends Urban Search and Rescue Teams to Hawaii to Support Hurricane Lane Response

At the request of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Governor Edmund G. Brown, Jr. has approved the deployment of Urban Search and Rescue (US&R) Task Force 8 (CA-TF8) and Task Force 3 (CA-TF3) through the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) to aid the response to Hurricane Lane in Hawaii.

“As part of the national Urban Search and Rescue system, California is providing two of our Urban Search and Rescue teams to assist Hawaii with response efforts as this powerful hurricane approaches their state,” said Cal OES Director Mark Ghilarducci.

During the deployment, California personnel will use their highly-developed and specialized skills to assist emergency operations in and around the hardest hit areas of the state, conducting search and rescue operations.

The National Hurricane Center in Miami, Florida, forecasts Hurricane Lane to move very close to or over the main Hawaiian Islands Thursday through Saturday. Hazardous conditions are expected to begin impacting portions of the Hawaiian Islands including tropical storm conditions, excessive rainfall and large swells. There are multiple Hurricane Warnings and Watches in effect throughout the Hawaiian Islands.
CA-TF8 (San Diego Fire Department) and CA-TF3 (Menlo Park Fire Protection District) are deploying as a Type-3 US&R Task Force and consists of 35 members. The California US&R Task Forces are being coordinated through Cal OES and FEMA and the teams have begun transporting equipment and personnel.
These teams are two of eight State/Federal US&R Task Forces in California that are highly-specialized search and rescue units that can perform in structural collapse, handle heavy rigging, specialized search functions and operate in swiftwater/flood environments.
Since 1992, California-based US&R Task Forces have been deployed to a long list of state, national, and even international disasters including 2017’s Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria, 1992 Hurricane Iniki (Hawaii), the 1994 Northridge Earthquake, 1995 Oklahoma City Bombing, Hurricane Katrina and the 2015 Nepal Earthquake.

Monica Vargas

Monica is a Public Information Officer for the California Governor's Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES). She has been involved in the Aliso Canyon Gas Leak, Valley Fire, Butte Fire, historic drought, Oroville Dam Emergency Spillway Incident and 2017 winter storms. She previously served Cal OES as an analyst in international affairs, technology operations and executive staff support.

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