With flooding and destruction along the east coast of Texas ongoing, several county services are getting ready to go help.
The Tennessee Emergency Management Agency, in situations like this or for instance the forest-fires in Sevier County last year, calls local services to see what they have avaialble. It then will organize and deploy them.
So far locally Spring Hill has been organized into a task force along with Columbia and Lawrenceburg Fire and Police forces, as part of a Maury County Task Force. This force will depart Saturday.
Also, a Williamson County group is sending eight members of the Franklin Fire Department, six members of Brentwood Fire & Rescue, and six members from the Williamson County Sheriff’s Office swift water rescue teams. Additionally, Williamson County Emergency Management Agency is sending three personnel to assist with communications. This group is on its way to Texas.
The Spring Hill Fire Department and the Spring Hill Police Department prepped to send six certified swift-water technicians from SHFD and the SHPD is adding two officers who are certified. The team was called to go Tuesday night, but in light of the weather headed this way, decided to not deploy until Saturday in case they are needed here.
According to Franklin Fire Deputy Chief Todd Horton, seven agencies and 74 rescuers throughout the State of Tennessee are responding. They are taking inflatable Zodiac boats, flat bottom boats, jet skis, generators, tools, safety equipment, food, water, fuel and provisions for seven days in a primitive situation. Horton said they will be responsible for rescuing people as well as animals, and administering medical care.
They will meet at College Station, Texas, to receive assignments.
“We were contacted by TEMA to see what resources we had, and grouped with Columbia Fire Department and Lawrenceburg Fire Department, which both have swift water certified members” SHFD Chief Terry Hood said. “So we spent Monday getting what we call ‘mission ready’ getting equipment together and packing bags to be ready at the drop of a hat.”
As for exactly what they will be doing and where, Hood said they will find out when they get there.
“It is like a huge-scale water accident, with lots of people involved,” he said.
TEMA asked for a deployment of at least 8 days. It asked for 10 days last year, also, when the county sent a task force that included SHFD to Sevier County, but the situation came under control and it turned out to be a five day deployment.
BFD Fire Chief Brian Goss said, “We are never lacking for volunteers no matter how dangerous the work or how sparse the accommodations. Our people have trained in numerous specialties and always look forward to the opportunity to put that training to work.”
The situation the Williamson County and Maury County task force will face in Texas is somewhat up in the air.
“When you get there, you are given what tasks still need to be done, because it is still raining there are a lot of variables,” Hood said. “Everyone is seeing on the news about Houston but there are also areas around there that are effected. You might have a small town like Lieper’s Fork and get sent there. It depends on what is asked for and what TEMA needs from us.”
Hood will split the teams into two boats, with three fire fighters and a police officer on each. Likely tasks might be rescuing stranded drivers, or people stuck in homes surrounded by water, or others who tried to get out and fell or ended up in the water.
“When we have water rescue to go to on daily basis, it is usually someone fell in water and got trapped and we rescue them,” Hood said. “This event like, we did in Franklin in 2010, you have recuse people trapped in houses, go up get them out, get them in the boat. You have people who get stuck in high water, and also people out on the water trying to get out of their home and they get swept down the road.”
How It Works
“The Texas Emergency Management Agency (or other state in need) would make a formal request to one or more other state emergency management agencies for resources that it needs,” Todd Horton, Deputy Fire Chief for Williamson County, said. “Each State Emergency Management Agency coordinates with local emergency management agencies to fulfill the request as needed, who in turn coordinates with local responders.”