LBFD’s swift water rescue team dispatched to Texas coast

pic-for-swift-water-rescue.jpgOn Friday, September 12, the Long Beach Fire Department (LBFD) swift water rescue team was attached to the Texas Task Force Rescue Team. With two squad leaders and their three four-man boats designated as Bravo squads 6,7 & 8, Los Angeles County, Austin, Longview, and Denton teams complete the Bravo Division. The teams from Stockton and Sacramento City that LBFD traveled with to the area are assigned to the Alpha Division.
The water rescue teams have been assigned to the east and west ends of Galveston, which had the possibility of being submerged due to the predicted high storm surge. All of the teams have been getting more familiar with their equipment, personal gear, and reviewing policies and procedures. There currently are approximately 500 people and 300 various pieces of equipment on scene, including teams from Texas, Colorado, Arizona, Virginia, the Coast Guard, Military, and FEMA.
On Saturday, September 13 in the morning, after enduring the full force of the hurricane without incident at the Reliant Convention Center, a briefing was conducted by the FEMA overhead management team and the water rescue teams. The LBFD and LA County teams were attached to Texas Task Force 1, 2, and a military unit to respond to the Texas-Louisiana to the town of Bridges, which had reports of hundreds of people stranded in their homes from the severe flooding.
While en route they passed small buildings that had experienced extensive wind damage, power poles, trees, and signs that had been uprooted, and numerous homes, and fields that were flooded. Once they reached their assigned area they drove through running board high water to receive a face-to-face briefing from the local fire department in regard to completed rescues, extent of damage, layout of the city, and the hazards associated with gators, and water moccasins. The team began their searches by driving into the affected areas as far as possible, then unloading their 3 boats and walking them through knee deep water hailing for any survivors, or those in need. This operation continued well into the night hours with some individuals receiving assistance, while others chose to stay with their homes.
On Sunday, September 14 the LBFD team was assigned to “secondary searches” of the structures and areas of their responsibility. These searches were intended to ensure that all residents were accounted for, and that there were no injuries associated with the hurricanes devastation of the community. During the operation residents who had evacuated were given the approval to re-enter the area and the local fire department began to assist with this procedure.
Reports as of Monday, September 15 are that the team may begin de-mobilization procedures and return to the city by Friday, September 19.

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