Seventeen dogs, seven people and one stranded tractor driver have been evacuated by a special task force of NYPD and FDNY personnel lending a hand to flood operations in the Houston area, officials said Thursday.
“They anticipate the numbers will increase,” said Chief Timothy Trainor, NYPD spokesman.
The dogs were removed Wednesday from homes and taken to animal shelters while the people voluntarily elected to take advantage of the task force offer for evacuation, Trainor said. The tractor driver was stranded in high water, he said.
Officials released photographs late Wednesday and early Thursday of the task force activity. One image shows NYPD officers cradling a dog being removed from a flooded house. The dog also was photographed in a boat driving on the water accompanied by a man in a camouflaged outfit who was not a task force member, Trainor said.
Working 16-hour shifts, task force members, who are under the coordination of the New York City Office of Emergency Management but taking direction from federal authorities, were operating in the vicinity of Brazoria County, which is near the coast south of Houston and west of Galveston. Trainor said. Officials there were on watch for additional flooding from the levees.
New York Task Force 1 is made up of 81 city personnel — 41 firefighters, 39 police officers and one OEM official. The task force arrived at its base in Galveston late Monday, Trainor said. Six canine cops with their dogs are part of the unit, which will be living in tents as they go about their job of flood rescues and building collapses. The group traveled to Texas in a caravan of 19 vehicles, including three tractor-trailers and box trucks crammed with supplies and boats.
Before the task force’s arrival, the FDNY sent an incident management team, a specialized unit created after Sept. 11, 2001 and made up of firefighters trained in command, logistics and rescue operations. The team was on scene to coordinate activities with the Federal Emergency Management Administration, said a department spokesman.
Officials said the task force had enough supplies to sustain itself for two weeks in the field.
Task force members have been trained to handle catastrophes and have responded to disasters around the world, including the earthquake in Haiti in 2010 and Hurricane Katrina in 2005.