Bay Area Search and Rescue Teams Gear Up for Hurricane Irma Relief

Scores of Bay Area urban search and rescue personnel in Florida are gearing up for days packed with relief missions as Hurricane Irma lashes the state with powerful storm surge, winds in excess of 100 mph and constant downpours.

Hundreds of members representing California Task Force 3, California Task Force 4 and the California Air National Guard from the 129th Rescue Wing were either in Florida or on their way to the region by the time the Category 4 storm made landfall in Florida Keys Sunday morning, inundating neighborhoods with water and toppling trees.

The 80-member California Task Force 4 worked 14-hour days in Texas to ease some of the misery from Hurricane Harvey, and helped rescue not only people, but also cattle, horses, dogs, cats and birds. Shifting their attention to Irma, the members of California Task Force 4 are equipped with four rescue boats, tool for breaching and shoring up collapsed structures, audio and visual aid for finding trapped survivors, and four K-9 teams.

About 82 members from California Task Force 3 were still en route to Florida as of Sunday morning, according to officials. Days before, a caravan of emergency vehicles belonging to the outfit arrived in Menlo Park after a physically and emotionally exhausting mission in Texas.

Approximately 100 members of the California National Guard departed from Moffett Field in Mountain View on Friday to fly toward Irma’s projected path.

The highly-trained search and rescue unit is expected to fly helicopters into flooded neighborhoods and pull people to safety. The team completed more than 100 successful rescue operations in Texas neighborhoods pummeled by Harvey.

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