Governor Edmund G. Brown, Jr. has approved the deployment of Urban Search and Rescue Task Force 5 (CA-TF5) through the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) to aid the response to Hurricane Harvey.
“As an integral part of the national Urban Search and Rescue system and in support of the major response effort to Hurricane Harvey, California is providing one of our Urban Search and Rescue teams to assist Texas in their time of need,” said Cal OES Director Mark Ghilarducci.
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., expects Harvey to strengthen as it moves towards the Texas coast with landfall happening late Friday through early Saturday. Life-threatening and devastating flooding is forecasted near the coast due to heavy rainfall and storm surge. A Storm Surge Warning is in effect for Port Mansfield to High Island, Texas. Governor Abbott has declared a state of disaster for 30 Texas counties in anticipation of Harvey making landfall.
CA-TF5 consists of personnel from the Orange County Fire Authority and is deploying as a Type-3 Urban Search and Rescue (US&R) Task Force, which consists of 35 members with an additional 10 ground support personnel. The Task Force, being coordinated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is traveling by ground and is expected to arrive on Friday late afternoon in San Antonio for pre-staging. The deployment may last 14 days.
This team is one 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 (IST).
These IST members are based at Orange County Fire Authority, Sac Metro Fire, San Diego Fire & Rescue Department and the City of Riverside Fire Department. 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 (Hawaii), the 1994 Northridge Earthquake, 1995 Oklahoma City Bombing, Hurricane Katrina and the 2015 Nepal Earthquake.
Cal OES also continues to monitor requests 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.