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COLLEGE STATION — Elite search and rescue team Texas Task Force 1 dispatched to the Houston area late Friday afternoon to pre-stage 150 team members and equipment in advance of Hurricane Rita’s landfall in Southeast Texas.

Texas Task Force 1 has mobilized a unique combination of water rescue squads and urban search and rescue teams, with capabilities to utilize air, land and water search and rescue assets to respond to significant flooding and structural damage. Additionally, Texas Task Force 1 has developed and is managing a unified command of all local, state and federal search and rescue assets responding to Rita.

Included in Texas Task Force 1’s Rita operations are an 80-member Type I urban search and rescue team, a 59-member hurricane response team and various command personnel overseeing search and rescue operations in conjunction with the Texas State Operations Center in Austin.

The Texas Engineering Extension Service (TEEX), the sponsoring agency of Texas Task Force 1, also has 20 personnel stationed at State Operations Center to support hurricane preparations and response.

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.

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