July 22, 2018

Vermont rescuers return from hurricane duty in Texas

The Vermont Task Force 1 Swift Water Rescue team returned from its deployment to Texas on Sunday after assisting with searches, well-being checks and other tasks in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.

The 11-day deployment came at the request of the Texas Division of Emergency Management. Two Williston firefighters, Dave Auriemma and Tim Gerry, were part of the deployment.

“Task Force 1 members performed their customary outstanding work in unfamiliar surroundings with hazards that are not present in Vermont,” Gov. Phil Scott said during a ceremony in Waterbury to welcome the team home. “I want to thank the members of the team for their dedication, the team members back here in Vermont who offered important support and the families who held down the fort while their loved ones were away.”

Vermont Task Force 1 was assigned to Orange County, Texas, a rural area on the Louisiana border.

The mission included the search of submerged cars, well-being checks and searches of homes from which residents were unaccounted for and delivery of essentials like food and water. Team members had to be mindful of alligators, water snakes and fire ants, as well as other wildlife.

“Many of us had never seen an alligator in the wild and weren’t eager to do so during our work, and we didn’t,” Task Force 1 team leader Michael Cannon said. “On behalf of the team, I want to thank the Vermonters who voiced their support on social media and in person, the people we encountered in several states who showed great generosity, and of course our families.”

The State of Vermont is exploring whether police officers, nurses or other assets will be needed for service in Florida in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma.

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