COLLEGE STATION — Texas Task Force 1 received its demobilization orders from the Federal Emergency Management Agency on Sunday after four days of search and rescue missions along the Alabama Gulf Coast in response to Hurricane Ivan.
The state’s elite urban search and rescue team completed operations in Gulf Shores, Ala., at noon Sunday as residents were allowed back into the area for the first time to inspect their homes.
President George Bush personally thanked the 31 members of Texas Task Force 1 on Sunday as he toured the devastation left behind by one of the most powerful hurricanes in U.S. history.
Texas Task Force 1 searched and cleared more than 500 homes in Orange Beach, Ala., over the weekend in preparation for the return of the area’s residents. The team also assisted the local fire department with debris removal. In some areas, roads were covered in 3 to 4 feet of sand, as travel along the Alabama coast continued to be extremely difficult.
The team is expected to reach its headquarters in College Station late Monday.
Texas Task Force 1 is one of 28 teams in the national urban search and rescue system under FEMA. Texas’ Type III team in Alabama was equipped to respond to light structural collapses and conduct general rescue operations.
The Texas Engineering Extension Service (TEEX), a member of The Texas A&M University System, serves as the sponsoring agency for Texas Task Force 1.