Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin and the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management (OEM) today announced that Oklahoma is sending swift water rescue teams to the state of Texas to assist in the ongoing Tropical Storm Harvey response efforts.
Fourteen swift water rescue and Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) teams and one management team from the Oklahoma Disaster Task Force deployed this morning to southeast Texas. The teams consist of 30 boats and 83 personnel from as part of the following teams: Broken Arrow Emergency Management; Bryan County Swift Water Rescue Team; Coal County Swift Water Team; Mayes County Task Force 1; Oklahoma City USAR; Pittsburg County Water Rescue Team; Quapaw Tribe Fire; Muscogee (Creek) Nation Emergency Response Team; Tulsa Fire Department USAR; Tulsa Police Department Disaster Area Response Team; Washington County Emergency Management; Grand River Dam Authority; Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation; and Oklahoma Highway Patrol.
The Oklahoma teams will help support the Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM) with water rescues as the state continues to respond to the devastating flooding that has already occurred, and the additional rainfall and flooding expected due to the ongoing tropical storm.
The teams are deploying through the Interstate Emergency Response Support Plan, a regional mutual aid agreement for Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Region 6 states, and the Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC). EMAC is a national mutual aid system that allows states to send personnel, equipment and commodities to help disaster relief efforts in other states. The state-to-state system was developed after Hurricane Andrew in 1992 and was established in 1996.
OEM is working with Texas to send OK-IMT, the state Incident Management Team, later this week to assist with resource distribution and other assignments. OK-IMT includes 12 personnel from Moore Emergency Management, Oklahoma County Emergency Management, Oklahoma Highway Patrol, Oklahoma State Department of Health, Oklahoma State University Fire Service Training, Sapulpa Fire Department and Tulsa Fire Department. Additionally, two OEM personnel deployed Friday to serve as an EMAC advance team at the TDEM emergency operations center to assist with coordinating out of state resources.
OEM continues to monitor additional requests from the affected areas. Further support may be deployed if needed.
“Oklahoma is a generous and giving state, and we are happy to provide whatever support and resources we can to assist our friends in Texas,” said Fallin. “Oklahoma and Texas have a friendly rivalry, but we are neighbors and when disaster strikes we focus on a spirit of cooperation by offering a helping hand. Oklahomans who want to help may consider donating to the American Red Cross or another disaster relief organization. Cash donations allow more flexibility to fill unique needs for various communities.”
OEM Director Albert Ashwood said, “We are committed to helping our neighbors with any resources we have available as they deal with the continued effects of this record-breaking storm.”
Additional Oklahoma organizations responding to the impacted areas include volunteers from the American Red Cross, Children’s Disaster Services, Convoy of Hope, Mercy Chefs, Operation BBQ Relief, the Salvation Army and Southern Baptist Disaster Relief.