CREVE COEUR, Mo. – Missouri Task Force 1 is one of 28 urban search and rescue teams in the United States. FEMA activated the unit Tuesday in anticipation of widespread flooding in the gulf areas of Texas and Louisiana. Hurricane Laura is expected to enter the coasts of Texas and Louisiana Wednesday night.
“We train a lot on water rescue so swift water rescue, floodwater rescue those are the sorts of skills we would expect them to employ in this particular deployment,” said Fire Chief Scott Olson, Missouri Task Force One.
Twenty-five task force members will travel to Texas with water rescue equipment including six boats. The water rescue specialists will be positioned in College Station, Texas and will respond as needed.
Missouri Task Force 1 operates from the Booneville Fire Protection District in Columbia. Members include first responders from the St. Louis area. They left Columbia Tuesday for what was expected to be a 14-hour trip.
Trained volunteers with the American Red Cross are part of a relief effort. Twenty-five volunteers from the region are deployed including 7 from the St. Louis area.
Nikki Magditsch is a trained volunteer who was deployed earlier this year for Hurricane Hanna and is now on standby to be deployed again. Relief efforts included greater precautions this year because of COVID-19 concerns.
“She’s still down there making sure she’s helping others and providing what Red Cross can provide to those in need – food, clothing, and shelter,” said Mary Jane Thomson, Red Cross Greater St. Louis executive director.
Red Cross training for volunteers has shifted to virtual training due to COVID-19. The agency is looking for more volunteers, especially those with medical backgrounds are needed. For more information about volunteering visit: redcross.org/volunteertoday.
Individuals need to be able to deploy for a 14-day period and work 8 to 12-hour shifts.