Task Force 1 deploys to Texas for Hurricane Dean relief

Monday, August 20, 2007 | 4:55 p.m. CDT; updated 12:21 a.m. CDT, Saturday, July 19, 2008

COLIMBIA — With a little help from its friends in Missouri, the Lone Star State is preparing for a potential disaster named Dean.

More than 30 members of Missouri Task Force 1 left for the Dallas-Fort Worth area Monday morning to join a nationwide contingent of emergency responders.

Dean, a Category 4 hurricane, has sustained winds of 150 miles per hour and is projected to hit the Yucatan Peninsula on Monday night.

The hurricane may strengthen to a Category 5 storm before landfall. Should it hit Texas, the Federal Emergency Management Agency will direct Task Force 1 to areas most affected by the storm. Dallas is simply a “forward staging area” for several urban search and rescue task forces, including groups from Tennessee, Nebraska, Utah, Maryland and California.

“Once they get down there, they become more or less a resource for the state of Texas,” said Gale Blomenkamp, Boone County Fire Protection District Division Chief.

Officials there will call upon one of the task forces “to do whatever mission that may be needed,” Blomenkamp said.

The convoy of eight vehicles, 34 task force members and more than 20,000 pounds of equipment began the 12-hour journey from Columbia to Dallas at about 9 a.m. Monday. Blomenkamp said the task force is about half the size of a typical group.

“This makes them a little more quicker to respond to given missions,” he said.

Blomenkamp said the task force could perform a variety of tasks, including searching a large flooded area for survivors or rescuing people trapped in their homes. He said the deployment could last up to 14 days.

The task force in the past has helped with Hurricane Katrina recovery in New Orleans and recovery efforts of the Space Shuttle Columbia explosion.­

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