Fairfax County’s urban rescue team is in its second week of helping victims of Hurricane Michael dig out and recover from the disastrous storm. The team, officially known as VA-TF1, is currently working in Jackson County, Florida, about 40 miles north northeast of Panama City, conducting wide-area searches including combing through damaged structures to look for victims.
“Access to many areas remains difficult but the team is working with federal and state resources, as well as contractors to gain access to all areas and provide the citizens with access to essential goods and services,” the team said in a dispatch today.
The task force was activated Oct. 8 as Michael neared landfall. The 16-member team includes six boats, three trailers, four pickup trucks, basic rescue tools, medical equipment and enough supplies for the team to operate and remain self-sufficient for at least 72 hours. The team members are trained to operate in fast-moving water and flood water.
VA-TF1 deployed early on October 9th and arrived at a staging location in Alabama where they remained in staging when the hurricane made landfall on October 10th. The team deployed to Panama City in Bay County, Florida on October 11th. Team members remained engaged in Bay County through October 13th where they performed wide area searches and detailed searches of damaged structures.
While performing this work they provided various assistance to the citizens affected by the hurricane, including access to EMS/medical care, access to essential services and supplies, contact information for disaster recovery, etc. Access and progress in many areas was slowed by debris and blocked roadways.
On October 14th the team was relocated to Jackson County, where they continue to work today.