COLLEGE STATION — Texas Task Force 1 is deploying at least 150 team members and preparing to coordinate and manage the state’s search and rescue operations for Hurricane Rita, which is expected to make landfall along the Texas Gulf Coast by Saturday morning. Over the next 24 hours, Texas Task Force 1 will be pre-staging personnel and equipment in multiple inland locations along the Texas coast, which will allow the teams to respond quickly to some of the hardest-hit areas by Rita. The Task Force will also be directing state and federal search and rescue resources deployed for the Rita response.
Texas Task Force 1 arrived here Tuesday night after Gov. Rick Perry recalled the team from New Orleans, where they assisted with 13,000 rescues in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. The rescue teams deploying for Rita will include a unique combination of water rescue squads and urban search and rescue resources, with capabilities to utilize air, land and water search and rescue assets to respond to significant flooding and structural damage.
The Texas Engineering Extension Service (TEEX), the sponsoring agency of Texas Task Force 1, is also sending 20 personnel to support hurricane preparations and response at the Texas State Operations Center in Austin.
The deployment for Hurricane Rita marks the fourth hurricane deployment this year for Texas Task Force 1, which is one of 28 national urban search and rescue teams under FEMA and also coordinates search and rescue operations for Texas under direction of the Governor’s Division of Emergency Management. The Task Force consists of 200 members from 60 organizations across Texas and is trained and equipped to locate and extricate victims trapped by flooding, collapsed structures and confined spaces in highly populated areas.
A member of The Texas A&M University System, TEEX offers hands-on, customized training, exercises, technical assistance and technology transfer services impacting Texas and beyond. TEEX programs include fire, homeland security, law enforcement, public works, safety and health, search and rescue and technology transfer.