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 3 (CA-TF3) Menlo Park Fire District, California US&R Task Force 6 (CA-TF6), Riverside City Fire and an element of California US&R (CA-TF8) San Diego Fire & Rescue Department, through the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) to aid the response to Hurricane Olivia in Hawaii and to be in position to quickly respond if needed for a typhoon developing in the region of Guam. They will join Washington State US&R Task Force 1 (WA-TF1), which also is being deployed to Hawaii by FEMA through the State of Washington.
This is the second time in weeks that California Urban Search & Rescue Task Forces have been dispatched to Hawaii. CA-TF3 and CA-TF8, with elements of California US&R Task Force 6 (Riverside), responded to the Hawaiian islands when Hurricane Lane struck last month.
“As part of the national Urban Search and Rescue system, California is providing our Urban Search and Rescue resources to assist Hawaii as powerful Hurricane Olivia approaches Hawaii and as a typhoon develops that could impact Guam,” said Cal OES Director Mark Ghilarducci.
During this second deployment to Hawaii, the California-based Urban Search & Rescue Task Force personnel will use their highly-developed skills to assist emergency operations in and around the hardest hit areas based on priorities and direction of Hawaii state and local officials, to assist with search and rescue operations.
The National Hurricane Center in Miami, Florida, forecasts Hurricane Olivia to move very close to or over the Hawaiian islands. IHazardous conditions are expected to begin impacting portions of the Hawaiian Islands including tropical storm conditions, excessive rainfall and large swells. In addition, a potential super typhoon is developing that could impact Guam with winds up to 155 miles per hour early next week.
CA-TF3 is deploying to Hawaii as a Type-3 US&R Task Force, which consists of 35 members. CA-TF6, is deploying as a 16-person water rescue team element of the Urban Search & Rescue Task Force, with additional CA-TF6 personnel to support deployment of a cache of equipment for the FEMA Urban Search & Rescue “Incident Support Team”. CA-TF8, is sending a logistical element of the US&R Task Force to assist with movement and operation of the equipment cache.
The California US&R Task Forces are being coordinated with Cal OES and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and are expected to to begin movement to Hawaii to be in place before Hurricane Olivia makes landfall, and to be as close as feasible if their assistance is needed in Guam.
These teams are two of eight State/Federal US&R Task Forces in California. They are highly-specialized search and rescue teams that can perform in structural collapse, handle heavy rigging, specialized search functions and operate in swiftwater and flood disaster environments.
Since 1992, California-based US&R Task Forces have been deployed to a long list of other 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, the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the 2011 Japan earthquake and tsunami catastrophe, last year’s earthquake disaster near Mexico City, and the 2015 Nepal Earthquake.