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 1 (CA-TF1) and Task Force 4 (CA-TF4) through the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) to aid the response to Hurricane Irma.
During the deployment, California personnel will use their highly-developed 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, Flo., has issued a Hurricane Watch and Storm Surge Watch for portions of South Florida and the Florida Keys. Governor Rick Scott has also declared a state of emergency in all 67 counties anticipation of the impacts of Hurricane Irma.
CA-TF1consists of 80 personnel from the Los Angeles Fire Department and CA-TF4 consists of 80 personnel from the Oakland Fire Department. Both Task Forces are en route from their previous assignment conducting flood search & rescue operations for Hurricane Harvey to a Hurricane Irma federal staging location in Alabama.
These teams are two of eight State/Federal US&R Task Forces in California that is a highly-specialized search and rescue unit that can perform in heavy reinforced masonry structures, handle heavy rigging, specialized search functions and operate in swiftwater/flood environments. This deployment also includes a US&R Incident Support Team to assist with coordination and operations of the US&R Task Forces that have been activated nationwide for Irma thus far.
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, 1994 Northridge Earthquake, 1995 Oklahoma City Bombing, Hurricane Katrina and the 2015 Nepal Earthquake.
Cal OES continues to monitor operations for both Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma and requests for assistance 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.