MIAMI (WSVN) - Rescue teams from South Florida answered the call for help in the wake of unprecedented flooding in Texas as a result of a slow-moving Tropical Storm Harvey, following another local crew that left hours earlier.
Fourteen members of the Miami Fire Rescue Department, called a swift water task force, continued their long drive to the Lone Star State, Monday afternoon. “So far, so good. It’s far, but we’re making good time,” said Miami Fire Rescue Assistant Chief Scott Dean.
The department received the call to help with search-and-rescue efforts, Sunday evening, after the storm gave rescue crews in the area more than they could handle. “It is very devastating. There’s a lot of flooding, a lot of moving water,” said Dean. “They’re doing what they got to do to help out.”
Sunday evening, 7News cameras firefighters in Miami as they loaded supplies into trucks.
Their mission will not be easy. The team is bringing specialized boats, all-terrain vehicles and other heavy equipment to Texas’ Gulf Coast, which was ravaged by relentless rains and catastrophic flooding.
“We’re prepared for whatever comes our way,” said Dean. “We just want to make sure that we do it safely, that nobody gets hurt, and that we can provide assistance to any citizens that need it.”
Miami Fire Rescue is not the only South Florida agency heading to Texas to lend a helping hand. They will be joined by Miami-based U.S. Coast Guard crews, with an airplane loaded with supplies.
A team from Miami-Dade Fire Rescue, comprised of 45 firefighters, paramedics, doctors and engineers, also began heading to Texas, early Sunday morning.
“Our task force is made up of multiple agencies around South Florida, up to about 30 of them,” said Dean. “We have a good variety of the best of the best from the South Florida region.”
MDFR Battalion Chief Andy Alvarez said they have no idea what they will encounter. “We really don’t know what to expect. Obviously, Texas is a very large state, and as far as the destruction, we only know what we’ve seen on TV and what’s been broadcast over the air,” he said.
The Miami task force is very well prepared, having experienced some of the nation’s worst tragedies. “I went to 9/11. I went to Katrina, and also to Haiti and a total of 18 deployments for me,” said Dean. “We do several hundreds of hours of training. Just to be a task force member, you’ve got to do up to 400 hours of specialized ops training, from vehicle extrication to building collapse technician, and other special ops courses.”
But these crews know that no matter how much training they’ve encountered each task is a new challenge.
The only thing the team members know is that they will eventually end up in Houston. “We’ll get more information en route from FEMA and get our orders that way,” said Dean.
Each of the South Florida teams took enough food and water to stay self-sufficient for days. The Miami Fire Rescue crew said they are prepared to remain in Texas for at least two weeks.
As of 10:30 p.m., Monday, some of the South Florida crews were about an hour away from San Antonio. They plan to spend the night there, and on Tuesday, FEMA will inform them where to go next.
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