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Urban search and rescue team Texas Task Force 1 has been demobilized by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) after a week-long deployment in response to Hurricane Ernesto.

Texas Task Force 1, which is sponsored by the Texas Engineering Extension Service (TEEX), returned to its College Station headquarters Sunday, Sept. 3.

The Task Force’s 80-member team was staged in Atlanta throughout the week in the event search and rescue assistance was first needed by state and local officials in Florida and then by the Southeast Atlantic states as Ernesto moved up the coastline. Additionally, five Texas Task Force 1 members were stationed in Jacksonville, Fla., as part of a FEMA Incident Support Team.

Texas Task Force 1 was one of 12 teams under FEMA’s National Urban Search and Rescue Response System that were originally activated in advance of Ernesto.

“While Texas Task Force 1 was not engaged in search and rescue operations due to Ernesto’s weakening, this deployment proved to be a good exercise in terms of activating the team ahead of the storm and being positioned to make a quick and effective response,” said Bob McKee, Texas Task Force 1 director. “This is one of the key lessons learned from last hurricane season.”

Coming off the record 2005 hurricane season, Texas Task Force 1 was deployed for five major storms last year, including Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. In the wake of Katrina, the Task Force assisted with more than 13,000 rescues in the downtown New Orleans area.

Texas Task Force 1 also serves as Texas’ statewide urban search and rescue team under the direction of the Governor’s Division of Emergency Management. More than 300 emergency responders from more than 60 organizations and departments throughout Texas comprise the team, which includes members ranging from firefighters to medical personnel.

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