Texas Task Force 1 is leading a large, coordinated mobilization of state search and rescue resources to prepare for Hurricane Dean, now classified as a Category 4 hurricane and threatening the Texas Gulf Coast.
Approximately 500 state search and rescue response personnel are being mobilized in College Station on Sunday as Hurricane Dean heads toward the Gulf of Mexico with wind speeds of 145 mph. Gov. Rick Perry signed a “Declaration of Imminent Hazard” early Friday and activated state resources, including Texas Task Force 1. In coordination with the State Operations Center in Austin, Texas Task Force 1 has assembled a unified command structure in preparation for deployment of these resources as part of the state’s hurricane preparedness plan.
Among the Task Force 1 resources being activated are a Type 1 heavy rescue team, a Type 3 medium search and rescue team and five swiftwater rescue boat squads. Additional state resources also mobilizing in College Station include Texas Task Force 2, a Dallas-based Type 3 search and rescue team, along with Texas Parks and Wildlife Department boat squads, Texas Forest Service Lonestar Task Force, the General Land Office and Texas Military Forces.
Responders will be staged in College Station on Sunday, well in advance of Hurricane Dean, which is expected to make landfall somewhere along the Texas Gulf Coast late Wednesday or early Thursday. Once the path of the hurricane becomes clear, the responders will be ready to deploy closer to the area expected to receive the brunt of the storm, said Bob McKee, director of urban search and rescue for the Texas Engineering Extension Service, which sponsors Texas Task Force 1.
In addition to the potential destruction from hurricane force winds, Hurricane Dean will likely add significant rainfall to the already flooded streams, rivers and lakes across southern Texas due to Tropical Storm Erin, McKee said.
More about Texas Task Force 1
Texas Task Force 1 is a state and federal urban search and rescue team comprised of more than 300 personnel representing more than 60 jurisdictions and agencies from across the state of Texas. Texas Task Force 1, which also coordinates statewide requests for swiftwater rescue, has operated one of the top water rescue teams in the nation since 2000. Texas Task Force 1 has deployed to swiftwater and flooding incidents across the state, and has just returned from a deployment for Tropical Storm Erin. In 2005, Texas Task Force 1 assisted with rescuing more than 13,000 downtown New Orleans residents in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.