BATON ROUGE, LA — After suspending activities for most of the day due to civil unrest in New Orleans, Texas Task Force 1 went back into action late Thursday to evacuate more than 150 patients stranded in a hospital and nursing home following the wrath of Hurricane Katrina.
Texas Task Force 1 leader Jeff Saunders led a mission into the city to rescue 65 patients — along with 2 pet rabbits — from a New Orleans nursing home. The mission, which was the only one completed by FEMA on Thursday, was finished about 7:30 p.m. Thursday.
The Water Team evacuated 90 patients and their families from a hospital in downtown New Orleans. The first two floors of the hospital were under water, according to team leader Billy Parker of Texas Task Force 1. He said the evacuation was completed with heavy police and National Guard protection by late Thursday evening.
The urban search and rescue team and 41-member water rescue squad spent the earlier portion of the day resting, rehabilitating equipment and assisting other FEMA Task Forces with logistics. Additionally, Texas Task Force 1 assisted with several local missions on Thursday, such as checking on nursing homes and hospitals for basic needs such as water and medical supplies.
“The Task Force Leaders want all loved ones of our members to know that while the long working hours, heat, humidity and lack of running water are all challenging to each of us, all steps are being taken to ensure all personnel are kept safe,” said Texas Task Force 1’s David Fiero and Saunders via e-mail on Thursday.
Texas Task Force 1 has combined with other response agencies to rescue more than 1,500 people from Katrina’s floodwaters throughout the week. Texas Task Force 1 has a total of 123 members working in response to Katrina, including personnel as part of the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) incident support team in New Orleans and the Texas State Operations Center in Austin.