Bay Area-Based National Guard Unit Deployed to Texas to Help Harvey Flood Victims - NBC Bay Area
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Bay Area-Based National Guard Unit Deployed to Texas to Help Harvey Flood Victims

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    More rescuers from the Bay Area were preparing Monday to go to Texas to help with relief efforts in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, officials with the Silicon Valley Air National Guard said. Ian Cull reports. (Published Monday, Aug. 28, 2017)

    More rescuers from the Bay Area were preparing Monday to go to Texas to help with relief efforts in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, officials with the Silicon Valley Air National Guard said.

    California Air National Guardsmen from the 129th Rescue Wing were sending about 90 members, spokesman Roderick Bersamina said. They departed Monday evening.

    "We're familiar with the terrain; we've been out to Texas before for hurricane response," Bersamina said. "However big or small the rescue operation is that we conduct, we bring the same level of excellence to the table."

    Two urban water rescue teams from the Bay Area have left for Texas to help with the federal response to the hurricane, which made landfall late Friday in the Houston area as a Category 4 storm, fire officials said.

    A team from the Menlo Park Fire District left at 6 p.m. Sunday and, as of Monday morning, was about 1,000 miles from Austin, Texas, where they will get their assignments.

    As of midday Monday, rescuers in Texas had made 2,211 high-water rescues, according to the Harris County Sheriff's Office, which serves the Houston area.

    Federal officials have activated all 28 federal task forces, which include the two Bay Area water rescue teams. Along with Menlo Park, the other Bay Area team is from Oakland.

    "This is the most significant national response event since Hurricane Katrina and as such is generating a top shelf federal and state magnitude of water rescue response and supporting resources," Menlo Park Fire District Chief Harold Schapelhouman said in a statement.

    The 129th Rescue Wing has gone to Texas before in response to Hurricanes Rita in 2005 and Ike and Gustav in 2008.

    The wing is made up of Guardian Angel para-rescuers, HH-60G Pave Hawk rescue helicopters and an MC-130P Combat Shadow aircraft. The wing will operate out of Robert Gray Army Airfield in Texas.

    The 129th Rescue Wing has been given credit for saving 1,017 lives since 1977.

    Several team members from the Menlo Park Fire District responded to Hurricane Katrina while others responded to other disasters such as flooding in the Central Valley.

    As it left for Texas, the urban search and rescue team took five vehicles, 10 boats and three drones with them.

    A water rescue team from Oakland was briefed over the weekend before it was to deploy to Texas, Oakland firefighters said.

    NBC Bay Area's Ian Cull contributed to this report.

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