FAIRFAX, Va. -- Shortly before 4:00 Sunday afternoon, the Virginia Task Force 1 Swift Water Team got the green light from FEMA to hit the road for the day long journey to southeastern areas of Texas ravaged by flood waters left over from Hurricane Harvey.
Lieutenant Michael Eddy with Fairfax County Urban Search and Rescue said, “We’re taking four different vehicles, four pick-up trucks and we have about six boats, flat water boats and swift water boats, not knowing what we’re going to get into down there.”
The crew of 14 will be self-sustainable for up to 72-hours with water, food, and fuel as they trudge through an estimated 50 inches of rainfall that hit the Houston area.
They are also prepared to tackle any hurtles that may get in the way of rescue efforts.
“We have breaching and breaking, chainsaws just in case we need to get through anything… trees down that’s in our way. We have 4WD pick-up trucks in case we have to go off road or do anything of that nature. But, right now we’re just set up as a water asset.”, said Lt. Eddy.
The entire task force is made up of 200 fire and rescue personnel to handle disasters both domestically and internationally.
Previous deployments include missions to the Carolinas and Florida during Hurricane Matthew and Japan in the wake of a 2011 earthquake and tsunami.
Lt. Eddy said, “Most of us work for the fire department, so we’re always helping people, we’re always looking to help people.
So, on this side of things you know, we can help people locally, but now we can, nationally we can go out and help people. That’s what we’re here for, we love to go out the door and help people,”
Maryland also sent about 20 rescue workers from Montgomery county to assist.
It’ll take about 22 hours for the Virginia Task Force 1 Team to get to where they’re going in Texas and they could stay anywhere from seven to 14 days.