Some Pierce County heroes are steeped in the tragedy of Hurricane Harvey, rescuing stranded Texans from flooded neighborhoods and whisking them to safety.
The 17-member team drove 38 hours on Sunday to respond to the call for help, towing two trailers, four boats, inflatable rafts and other gear.
Another five members may join the disaster response by the end of the week.
They’re one of 28 task forces around the country that are called on by the Federal Emergency Management Department when there is a widespread disaster.
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“We’re all a team,” Pierce County sheriff’s deputy J. Sausley told King-5. “We might be from a different state, but it’s America. We come to do our part.”
The hurricane touched down Friday, quickly becoming the most powerful storm to hit mainland U.S. in more than a decade.
Since then, it has killed at least 31 people, forced more than 30,000 people from their homes and caused extensive damage throughout Texas.
The Washington task force is trained in water rescue. They’ve responded to Hurricane Katrina, 9/11, Oklahoma City and the Oso mudslide.
“This is what we’ve been training all this time for,” Buck Copsey, a Tacoma firefighter and task force team leader, told his team as they hit the ground in Kingwood outside Houston.
The local team went to San Antonio, College Station (where they slept in a barn) and Kingwood, according to its Twitter profile.
“It should not be lost that these are true heroes, going into harm’s way at a time where government and emergency management is telling people to get out of that area,” Scott Heinze of the Pierce County Emergency Management Department told KUOW.
Central Pierce Fire & Rescue sent five of its employees to Texas, and said many more want to join the relief efforts.
“There’s a line of guys who want to step up and help,” Assistant Chief Guy Overby said. “They’re excited to go, they want to help. It’s the nature of firefighters.”
The task force comprises firefighters, law enforcement and other emergency responders.
The team is expected to remain in Texas for two weeks.
Stacia Glenn: 253-597-8653