Fairfax Co. urban search and rescue team gets to work in Bahamas

Virginia Task Force One has set up in the Bahamas to help residents of the hurricane-battered islands. (Courtesy Virginia Task Force One)

Virginia Task Force One — Fairfax County’s Urban Search and Rescue Team — is on the job in the Bahamas, in an area that was battered by Hurricane Dorian.

More than 60 members of Fairfax County Fire and Rescue have set up camp on Abaco Island. With four canine rescue teams and 50,000 pounds of specialized equipment and tools, the team has started its work to help the storm-ravaged area recover.

“There’s fairly widespread devastation throughout both Grand Bahama to Abaco Island … Abaco has been set as a priority by the Bahamian National Emergency Management Authority,” said John Morrison, spokesman for the search and rescue team.

The U.S. Navy transported the team and its gear to Abaco, where it set up its base camp on Saturday. Fifty-seven members of the team were initially deployed to the Bahamas and an additional eight were called up this weekend.

The team also includes doctors and structural and rigging specialists.

Abaco Island in the northern Bahamas was devastated by the storm with homes, schools and businesses washed away.

“We have experience in responding to large-scale disasters throughout our long history as a team and are well-equipped to handle that,” said Morrison.

“We’ll be here as long as the Bahamian government feels it’s necessary and as long as search and rescue operations are underway,” he said.

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