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Officials: NYC sends task force to Texas to aid in storm rescue

FDNY members load a rescue boat before setting

FDNY members load a rescue boat before setting out for Galveston, Texas on Sunday morning, Aug. 27, 2017, with NYPD and other city officials to assist rescue efforts in the wake of tropical storm Harvey. Photo Credit: FDNY

A special task force of NYPD, FDNY and Office of Emergency Management personnel arrived in Galveston, Texas, late Monday afternoon and prepared for rescue operations in the wake of Tropical Storm Harvey, officials said.

A caravan of 19 vehicles left New York City at 5 a.m. Sunday and arrived about 4 p.m. Monday in Texas. One tractor trailer broke down in Mississippi but the unit was able to continue, said Chief Tim Trainor, a spokesman for the NYPD.

The members of Task Force 1 left the city with three tractor trailers, a box truck and other vehicles crammed with supplies, hard hull boats and inflatable watercraft. The convoy also brought a three-day supply of military “meals ready to eat.” Trainor said the tractor trailer with mechanical problems was being repaired and officials expected it to leave Mississippi by about 7 p.m. Monday.

A total of 82 personnel from the city, including 41 firefighters, 39 cops and one official from the Office of Emergency Management, made up the task force. Six canine cops with their dogs are also part of the unit, which will be living in tents in Galveston, Trainor said. The task force will help with flood rescues and building collapses, he said.

In advance of the task force’s arrival, the FDNY’s incident management team, a specialized unit created after the Sept. 11 attacks and composed of firefighters trained in command, logistics and rescue operations, was on scene to coordinate activities with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, a department spokesman said.

Mayor Bill de Blasio, speaking at an unrelated news conference in Brooklyn, said he had a message for Harvey-battered Texans: “I want everyone in Texas to know New York City will stand by you.”

De Blasio said the devastating floods “brought back for all us very bad memories of Hurricane Sandy.” The 2012 storm ravaged the city and Long Island, but de Blasio noted “this flooding in Texas is extensive in ways that we never experienced.”

Task force members have been trained to handle catastrophic events and have responded to events around the world, including the earthquake in Haiti in 2010 and Hurricane Katrina in 2005, which caused extensive damage in New Orleans.

“We are trained to save lives before patients are extricated from natural and man-made disasters,” said FDNY rescue paramedic Silvana Uzcategui, in a statement. “Our role in Texas is to provide medical care, to take care of civilians and the task force members.”

With Laura Figueroa

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