The 45 members of the Urban Search and Rescue Team sent from San Diego County to assist victims of Hurricane Harvey were working in the Cy-Fair region of the northwest Houston suburbs Thursday, according to the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department.
The area — made up of the towns of Cypress and Fairbanks — was hit hard by flooding from Harvey, which has dumped more than 50 inches of rain since making landfall.
Among other things, a private boat making rescues in Cy-Fair capsized on Tuesday, sending 11 people into swollen Cypress Creek. All were rescued.
According to the Houston Chronicle, the San Diego team has not had to make any rescues because of receding water, but they have helped to survey the community along with the Cy-Fair Volunteer Fire Department and Harris County Sheriff’s Office.
“A lot of our efforts are spent training on earthquakes, but we are FEMA’s foot soldiers, so we are trained to handle situations like this too,” said SDFRD Battalion Chief Lane Woolery, the team leader, referring to the Federal Emergency Management Agency. We really truly try to be the Swiss army knife for FEMA.”
The team, which includes 24 San Diego firefighters, originally deployed to the nearby suburb of Katy, SDFRD Chief Brian Fennessy said.
A swiftwater rescue team made up of city lifeguards won’t be deploying to Texas, at least for now, according to the SDFRD.
On Tuesday, following a squabble between Fennessy and lifeguard union head Ed Harris over whether the swiftwater team should be sent to the storm- ravaged area, it appeared that state officials in charge of coordinating disaster response were about to call them up.
However, that changed late Wednesday. A city spokeswoman said only two of the 13 swiftwater rescue teams in California are going to be deployed, and San Diego’s isn’t one of them.
—City News Service
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