WASHINGTON — Floating balls of fire ants are just some of the extreme conditions facing local first responders who are in Texas helping flood victims.
“Heat, humidity, large mosquitoes, flotillas of fire ants in the water (and) rising floodwaters were a few of the challenges endured not only by the community … but our task force members and (other first responders),” Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service spokesman Pete Piringer said, speaking for Maryland Task Force 1.
Working the area of Angleton, Texas, and the wider Brazoria County area, Piringer said Maryland Task Force 1 had contact with about 60 people over the weekend while conducting door-to-door searches, evacuating some families and pets and helping others shelter in place.
Maryland’s hazardous materials unit teamed up with task force crews from multiple states to decontaminate areas after floodwater exposure.
As of Monday, the team was relocating to a staging area in Katy, Texas, which is west of Houston, to hydrate, regroup, resupply, clean equipment and do preventive maintenance on equipment.
Virginia Task Force 1 of Fairfax County, Virginia, is also staged in Katy as FEMA officials keep a watchful eye on Hurricane Irma in the Atlantic heading toward the Leeward Islands.
Both Virginia and Maryland Task Force teams have resources in reserve beyond those deployed to Texas.
“In the event that Irma does reach the East Coast — certainly if FEMA calls — we will be ready to deploy in several hours,” Piringer said.