A Los Angeles Fire Department patch and badge.
Los Angeles Fire Department patch and badge. Photo by John Schreiber.

The Los Angeles City Council Wednesday honored a local search-and-rescue team that was deployed for 24 straight days to Texas and Florida to help victims of hurricanes Harvey and Irma.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency’s California Task Force One is based in Los Angeles and consists of more than 70 members of the Los Angeles Fire Department, along with civilian support staff, physicians and canine handlers.

“It is with extreme pride that today we honor and recognize the members of Task Force One,” Councilwoman Monica Rodriguez said. “You know, as a daughter of an L.A. city firefighter, there is no greater understanding that I have than the kinds of sacrifices these individuals make to be of service to our community.”

On Aug. 26, the team deployed to Texas as part of the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s response to Hurricane Harvey. They were on the road home on Sept. 6 when they turned around and headed to Florida to help with rescue efforts in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma.

“They did have some unusual encounters,” LAFD Chief Ralph Terrazas said. “They encountered alligators, poisonous snakes, crabs, iguanas, farm animals, and I am told a very vicious chihuahua, who bit one of our members that did not show up today because I was told they might be embarrassed.”

During the deployment, the team searched 4,200 structures, assisted more than 700 residents and pets, and performed 56 evacuations, Rodriguez said.

Councilman Mitchell Englander noted the team was “gone for nearly a month” amid tough conditions — “sleeping on people’s lawns, unable to shower, looking for the next meal.”

“It’s not like they are going on this tour where they roll out the red carpet to visit a city,” he said. “They are going into uncharted territory and places they have never been and figuring out how to navigate that landscape to put their lives on the front line.”

–City News Service

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