Hurricane Katrina - Category Four Storm
On the morning of Monday, August 29th Hurricane Katrina made landfall as a Category Four Storm in Southeast Louisiana. FLTF-2 was deployed to the Gulfport Mississippi region on August 29th 2005 at 1200 hrs. The Team traveled for 30 hours and arrived in the City of Gulfport at 2000 hours on August 30th 2005.
While the team was staging the lead vehicle looked for the Emergency Operations Center, FLTF-2 immediately went to work when a passing vehicle flagged down our task force. From that point on FLTF-2 worked by providing the standard operational component of search and rescue. In addition, FLTF-2 provided logistics services for the other Task Forces and IST at the Base of Operations.
Upon arrival in Gulfport, we were assigned to provide rapid recon/search efforts for viable subjects in a search area running east and west from Hwy 49 between the waterfront and the railroad tracks, working in conjunction with firefighters from Gulfport Fire Rescue. This effort was based on reports of possible live subjects in the area. FLTF-2 recorded several casualties and the location of Natural Gas leaks and forwarded the information in an organized, timely manner to the proper authorities.
In the following days FLTF-2 assumed major support/logistics role for IST and the Base of Operations. Several areas potentially needing in-depth evaluation emerged. One of these areas was along the Pearl River north and south of Walkiah Bluff Road. Additional areas with either multiple mobile homes or greater damage as based on tree debris were also identified. The area along the Pearl River meshed with aerial evaluations.
FLTF-2 sent two search teams composed of multiple squads, and accompanied by local Fire Department members, into the areas identified along the Pearl River, North from Walkiah Bluff Rd to Pine Grove Rd, and South to Ulman Stockstill Road, from the river’s edge to Route 43. In addition, helicopter overflights with search team members and local Fire Department members were made of the areas to identify possible greater damage.
All search squads reported extensive contact with residents, and were able to establish that there were no persons believed to be missing in the search area. In addition, they used the opportunity to pass out water and MRE’s when need was noted. The entire search area identified was searched.
For the final phase of operations, US&R activities focused on continued response to specific requests to check known locations, as well as focused operations in areas of extremely heavy debris known to have originated from occupied dwellings. FLTF-2 as needed due to safety concerns or heavy debris, continued to assist coroner’s teams in removing casualties.
In addition, efforts focused on developing tactical information to be used by local authorities as they engage in recovery and debris removal operations. Active teams include Florida FEMA Task Force 2 and Alabama State Task Force 1.The team was demobilized on September 9th and arrived home on September 11th 2005 at 2000 hours.