Phoenix Firefighters Fight Flooding in Texas

Posted: Updated:
AZ-TF 1 at Loves Truck Stop McDonalds. (Source: Phoenix Fire Dept.) AZ-TF 1 at Loves Truck Stop McDonalds. (Source: Phoenix Fire Dept.)
Sinkhole damaged road  and an overhead view of Rosenburg Texas. (Source: Rosenburg Police Dept.) Sinkhole damaged road and an overhead view of Rosenburg Texas. (Source: Rosenburg Police Dept.)
AZ-TF 1 in New York, Sept. 2001. (Source: Phoenix Fire Dept.) AZ-TF 1 in New York, Sept. 2001. (Source: Phoenix Fire Dept.)
(3TV/CBS 5) -

Heartbreaking images of flood ravaged Texas have consumed television and social media for the past week. Thanks to Hurricane Harvey, the state has been overwhelmed with devastation, and first responders from all over the country have been deployed to the hardest hit areas. Many are from Phoenix.

[RELATED: Arizona Red Cross volunteers join Harvey relief efforts in Texas]

Arizona Task Force 1, a group made up of 80 Phoenix firefighters, left the Valley the evening of Saturday, August 26 with the goal to provide any help they could in search and water rescues.

[RELATED: Phoenix Search and Rescue headed to TX to offer hurricane aid]

Their journey brought them first to San Antonio, TX. where they would await assignment. By Monday morning, crews received word that they would head to Rosenberg, just 35 miles southwest of Houston. The nearby Brazos River was expected to crest at a record 59 feet, and those who ignored mandatory evacuation notices were going to need help getting out.

Photos from the Rosenberg Police Department showed just how dire the situation became. A massive sink hole swallowed a road in the wake of nearly two feet of rain, and cars were completely submerged.

With most roads nearly impassable, AZ-TF1's drive took hours. That evening, most businesses were closed, but crews were able to find a Love's Travel Stop where McDonalds opened their doors to feed the hungry firefighters.

On Tuesday, AZ-TF1 was diverted to Katy, which is 30 miles due west of Houston. The team joined another task force that responded from California. With boats and life rafts, they rescued homeowners and their pets stranded in the flooding. 

Rescue operations continued Wednesday in Simonton,15 miles southwest of Katy. The crews were then assigned to the community of El Campo, where they worked alongside FEMA teams from New Jersey and Tennessee to continue saving people trapped in flooding. Some of the members of AZ-TF1 were also assigned to a military vehicle specifically designed for high water areas.

With the comforts of a hotel or home unavailable Thursday night, they used the floor of a nearby gymnasium for dry, indoor sleeping arrangements.

[RELATED: Going viral: Picture of 'Harvey's Heroes' resting in Texas high school]

They would get rest and be ready for reassignment in the morning. Crews were told to be prepared to continue to provide aid and be away from home for two weeks.

According to the AZ-TF 1 website, their mission is to maintain preparedness for deployment and response to Urban Search and Rescue environments on both a local and national level. They save lives by developing, maintaining, deploying, coordinating and supporting Urban Search and Rescue resources.

Working under the direction of an Incident Support Team, they locate, provide initial medical treatment and extricate victims of incidents requiring specialized search and rescue operations. Their framework of preparedness, response, mitigation and recovery is used to address the impacts of all types of disasters.

Disasters during the 1980s led the U.S. government to identify the needs for specialized Urban Search and Rescue due to the possibility of events that may lead to large numbers of trapped or stranded victims to be rescued in environments such as collapsed buildings, earthquakes, tornados, hurricanes, floods, explosions, civil disturbances and terrorist attacks.

AZ-TF 1 has been deployed to some of the largest and most catastrophic events in United States history including:

  • Northridge, CA Earthquake -1994

  • Oklahoma City Bombing - 1995

  • Atlanta Olympic Games - 1996

  • California Floods - 1997

  • World Trade Center, NY - 2001

  • Utah Olympic Games - 2002

  • Hurricane Katrina, LA - 2005

  • Hurricane Rita, TX - 2005

  • Hurricane Gustav, TX  - 2008

  • Hurricane Ike, TX  - 2008

[RELATED: How Arizonans can help the victims of Hurricane Harvey]

[RELATED: Hurricane Harvey: 70% of home damage costs aren't covered by insurance]

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Copyright 2017 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.


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