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Virginia Task Force 1 deploys for Hurricane Harvey recovery, includes Fairfax Co. team

A man waves for help as he is surrounded by floodwaters from Tropical Storm Harvey Sunday, Aug. 27, 2017, in Houston, Texas. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

Virginia Task Force 1 has deployed to aid with the recovery effort after Hurricane Harvey hit Texas, leaving two dead and over a dozen injured.

The Urban Search and Rescue Team will join FEMA as a water rescue team as thousands of rescue requests came in following Harvey, which is now classified as a tropical storm.

The team left for Houston Sunday afternoon.

Harvey has damaged buildings, caused power outages and led to "historic" flooding, according to the National Weather Service.


"We're ready to get out the door, we're ready to just get down there and start helping people is our main goal," said Lt. Michael Eddy, VA Task Force 1.

Fourteen members with Virginia Task Force 1 are being deployed and heading into harm’s way. A Swift Water rescue team got the call from FEMA Sunday morning as southeast Texas battles catastrophic flooding from Harvey.

"They bring basically anything from basic food and water up to the primary emergency equipment that they need to be able to operate in a disaster situation," said Chief Richard Bowers, Fairfax County Fire and Rescue.

The international search and rescue teams are making the more than 20-hour drive to Texas with boats and several trailers. The teams only had a few hours to pack and load up the life-saving supplies.

"I been to a couple hurricane deployments, I've been internationally to Nepal and those types of places," Eddy said.

Virginia Task Force-1 responds to natural disasters around the world. Now, the team is getting emotionally prepared to head into Houston, a city under siege. Rescuers have been fielding thousands of calls, and the water is still rising.

"We want to make sure we can help the people get them the FEMA resources needed and help evacuate if that comes about," Eddy said.

"They're very well experienced, very well equipped and very well trained to be able to handle these types of emergencies,” Bowers said.

The team with Virginia Task Force 1 is driving through the night and preparing to be in Texas for about two weeks. That timeframe could be more or less, and additional members back home will remain on standby if more help is needed.

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