Elite Va., Md. rescue teams join Harvey relief efforts in Texas

People walk with dogs along a street at the east Sam Houston Tollway from rescue boats as evacuations continue from flooding in Houston, Texas, Monday, Aug. 28, 2017, following Tropical Storm Harvey. Floodwaters reached the rooflines of single-story homes Monday and people could be heard pleading for help from inside as Harvey poured rain on the Houston area for a fourth consecutive day after a chaotic weekend of rising water and rescues. (Melissa Phillip/Houston Chronicle via AP)
People walk with dogs along a street at the east Sam Houston Tollway from rescue boats as evacuations continue from flooding in Houston, Texas, Monday, Aug. 28, 2017, following Tropical Storm Harvey. Floodwaters reached the rooflines of single-story homes Monday and people could be heard pleading for help from inside as Harvey poured rain on the Houston area for a fourth consecutive day after a chaotic weekend of rising water and rescues. (Melissa Phillip/Houston Chronicle via AP)

Evacuees
Evacuees are helped as floodwaters from Tropical Storm Harvey rise Tuesday, Aug. 29, 2017, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

Lake Conroe
Water is released from Lake Conroe Tuesday, Aug. 29, 2017, in Conroe, Texas. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

Jannett Martinez holds her cat Gigi as she rides a boat out of her neighborhood which was inundated after water was released from nearby Addicks Reservoir when it reached capacity due to Tropical Storm Harvey on Tuesday, Aug. 29, 2017, in Houston, Texas. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
Jannett Martinez holds her cat Gigi as she rides a boat out of her neighborhood which was inundated after water was released from nearby Addicks Reservoir when it reached capacity due to Tropical Storm Harvey on Tuesday, Aug. 29, 2017, in Houston, Texas. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

I-10 Flooding
Interstate 10 is closed due to floodwaters from Tropical Storm Harvey Tuesday, Aug. 29, 2017, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

Football flood
C.E. King High School’s football field is covered by floodwaters from Tropical Storm Harvey Tuesday, Aug. 29, 2017, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

Steven Hathaway searches for people to help in an apartment complex as floodwaters from Tropical Storm Harvey rise Tuesday, Aug. 29, 2017, in Kingwood, Texas. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)
Steven Hathaway searches for people to help in an apartment complex as floodwaters from Tropical Storm Harvey rise Tuesday, Aug. 29, 2017, in Kingwood, Texas. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

A man stands in floodwaters from Tropical Storm Harvey as he waits to board a boat to help look for evacuees Tuesday, Aug. 29, 2017, in Kingwood, Texas. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)
A man stands in floodwaters from Tropical Storm Harvey as he waits to board a boat to help look for evacuees Tuesday, Aug. 29, 2017, in Kingwood, Texas. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

Aerial
Homes are flooded near the Addicks Reservoir as floodwaters from Tropical Storm Harvey rise Tuesday, Aug. 29, 2017, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

Flood evacuees
Rescue boats fill a flooded street as flood victims are evacuated as floodwaters from Tropical Storm Harvey rise Monday, Aug. 28, 2017, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

People wade through chest deep water down Pine Cliff Drive as Addicks Reservoir nears capacity due to near constant rain from Tropical Storm Harvey, Tuesday, Aug. 29, 2017 in Houston. (Michael Ciaglo/Houston Chronicle via AP)
People wade through chest deep water down Pine Cliff Drive as Addicks Reservoir nears capacity due to near constant rain from Tropical Storm Harvey, Tuesday, Aug. 29, 2017 in Houston. (Michael Ciaglo/Houston Chronicle via AP)

Downtown Houston Aerial
Highways around downtown Houston are empty as floodwaters from Tropical Storm Harvey overflow from the bayous around the city Tuesday, Aug. 29, 2017, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

Addicks Reservoir
Water from Addicks Reservoir flows into neighborhoods as floodwaters from Tropical Storm Harvey rise Tuesday, Aug. 29, 2017, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

(1/13)
People walk with dogs along a street at the east Sam Houston Tollway from rescue boats as evacuations continue from flooding in Houston, Texas, Monday, Aug. 28, 2017, following Tropical Storm Harvey. Floodwaters reached the rooflines of single-story homes Monday and people could be heard pleading for help from inside as Harvey poured rain on the Houston area for a fourth consecutive day after a chaotic weekend of rising water and rescues. (Melissa Phillip/Houston Chronicle via AP)
Evacuees
Lake Conroe
Jannett Martinez holds her cat Gigi as she rides a boat out of her neighborhood which was inundated after water was released from nearby Addicks Reservoir when it reached capacity due to Tropical Storm Harvey on Tuesday, Aug. 29, 2017, in Houston, Texas. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
I-10 Flooding
Football flood
Steven Hathaway searches for people to help in an apartment complex as floodwaters from Tropical Storm Harvey rise Tuesday, Aug. 29, 2017, in Kingwood, Texas. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)
A man stands in floodwaters from Tropical Storm Harvey as he waits to board a boat to help look for evacuees Tuesday, Aug. 29, 2017, in Kingwood, Texas. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)
Aerial
Flood evacuees
People wade through chest deep water down Pine Cliff Drive as Addicks Reservoir nears capacity due to near constant rain from Tropical Storm Harvey, Tuesday, Aug. 29, 2017 in Houston. (Michael Ciaglo/Houston Chronicle via AP)
Downtown Houston Aerial
Addicks Reservoir

WASHINGTON — More than a dozen members of an elite search and rescue team from Virginia have arrived in Texas to assist with the response to Hurricane Harvey.

In a video posted online, Chuck Ryan, assistant chief with Fairfax County’s fire department, said that 14 water rescue specialists arrived Tuesday in Texas.

The rescuers are members of the county’s search and rescue team, also known as Virginia Task Force 1, which deploys around the world to respond to natural disasters.

There are 28 such teams that operate under the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

“They arrived in San Antonio,” Ryan explained. “Originally their destination was Houston, but due to the dynamic and changing conditions presented by the flooding down there and the constant rain, a decision was made by the federal partners to have the team held back a little bit.”

Another search and rescue team from the D.C. area deployed in Texas is from Montgomery County, Maryland.

Maryland Task Force 1 has about 20 members helping Harvey victims and is one of only a handful of teams that has specialized equipment for hazardous materials.

“In a flooding situation, there’s a lot of contamination,” said Pete Piringer, spokesman for Montgomery County’s fire department. “The hazmat team will assist urban search and rescue teams with the hazardous things that they come across.”

According to Piringer, this is the first time since the Sept. 11 terror attacks that all 28 of FEMA’s search and rescue teams have been deployed at the same time.

Federal and local agencies said they have rescued more than 13,000 people in the Houston area as well as in surrounding cities and counties in Southeast Texas since Harvey inundated the area with torrential rain.

Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo said his agency rescued about 4,100 people, while the city’s fire chief Samuel Peña said his department rescued more than 3,000.

The Harris County Sheriff’s Office reports rescuing more than 3,000 people. Houston is located in Harris County.

U.S. Coast Guard officials said they also rescued more than 3,000 individuals.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.


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