California Sends Urban Search and Rescue Teams to Support Hurricane Maria 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 2 (CA-TF2), Task Force 6 (CA-TF6) and Task Force 7 (CA-TF7) through the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) to aid the response to Hurricane Maria.

The National Hurricane Center in Miami, Florida has declared Hurricane Maria extremely dangerous as a Category 5 hurricane and issued Hurricane Watches and Warnings for the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.

For this deployment to Hurricane Maria, CA-TF2 consists of 27 personnel from the Los Angeles County Fire Department, CA-TF6 consists of 27 personnel from Riverside City Fire Department and CA-TF7 consists of 27 personnel from Sacramento City Fire Department.

This configuration of the US&R Task Forces was specified by FEMA for operations in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands because it provides light, fast, maneuverable, and easily transported urban search & rescue capabilities consistent with hurricane conditions on the islands.

These teams will augment four larger State/National US&R Task Forces and the FEMA US&R Incident Support Team (and a canine search team element of the Riverside City US&R Task Force (CA-TF6) that are already in Puerto Rico awaiting Hurricane Maria’s landfall.

Since 1992, California-based US&R Task Forces have been deployed to a long list of state, national, and international disasters including the 2007 Hurricane Gustav, 2007 Hurricane Ike, 2012 Hurricane Sandy, 2010 Haiti Earthquake, 2011 Christchurch Earthquake in New Zealand, 2011 Japan Earthquake and Tsunami, the 2015 Nepal Earthquake, as well as most recently Hurricane Harvey and Irma.

Cal OES continues to monitor operations for Hurricane Maria and requests for assistance under the Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC). 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.

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


Photo Source: NOAA Satellites


Robb Mayberry

Robb Mayberry is a Public Information Officer for the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services. He has assisted in the response and recovery efforts with some of California’s worst disasters, including the San Refugio Oil Spill, the Valley and Butte Wildfires, Aliso Canyon Gas Leak, Erskine Fire, and the Winters Storms of 2017. Prior to public service, he spent 25 years managing the public and media relations for some of Northern California’s largest healthcare organizations.

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