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COLLEGE STATION — Governor Rick Perry has authorized the redeployment of Texas Task Force 1, the state’s elite urban search and rescue team, to flood-ravaged New Orleans to assist in ongoing rescue operations in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

Texas Task Force 1’s first tour of duty in New Orleans ended last Wednesday and resulted in 13,000 rescues during a 10-day deployment. Personnel comprising in the initial Katrina response included an 80-member urban search and rescue team and a 41-member water strike team, with eight additional members serving in various capacities with FEMA, the Department of Homeland Security and the Texas State Operations Center.

The new 80-member Type 1 urban search and rescue team will depart College Station late Tuesday afternoon and will begin operations in New Orleans on Wednesday. Texas Task Force 1 will be reunited with Missouri Task Force 1 and Florida Task Force 2 — all members of FEMA’s national urban search and rescue system.

“We are honored that Governor Perry and FEMA have the trust in Texas Task Force 1 to redeploy on such short notice,” said Bob McKee, director of emergency response and rescue for the Texas Engineering Extension Service (TEEX), the task force’s sponsoring agency. “We are proud to represent Texas and help our neighboring state in this time of great need.”

All 28 of FEMA’s national urban search and rescue teams have rotated through either New Orleans or Mississippi as part of the Katrina response or are pre-staged in anticipation of Tropical Storm Ophelia’s landfall on Wednesday.

Texas Task Force 1 initially deployed its urban search and rescue team on Saturday, Aug. 27 in advance of Katrina’s landfall the following Monday. Texas Task Force 1’s water strike team was deployed Monday, Aug. 29 by the Governor’s Division of Emergency Management as a mutual aid agreement with Louisiana.

Texas Task Force 1 includes 200 highly trained and specialized emergency responders representing more than 60 organizations throughout the state. The team is capable of responding to mass casualty disasters and is trained and equipped to locate and extricate victims trapped by flooding, collapsed structures and confined spaces in highly populated areas.

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Kathy Fraser

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