Hurricane Katrina - Category Four Storm
Florida task Force Two was deployed to New Orleans, Louisiana on September 16th 2005 at 1500 hrs. The team arrived in the City of New Orleans on September 17th 2005.
Operations in the City of New Orleans were vastly different from operations at Gulfport. While there were no “rules of engagement” in Gulfport, New Orleans presented the Task Force a set of new challenges. In addition, due to our arrival after the initial two weeks of operations, most of the teams logistical matters had already been addressed.
Our mission became one of responding to IST’s requests for search and rescue while staying within the rules of engagement which varied depending on location.
The team set out on recon of the East Chalmette area with Rescue Team manager and Task Force Leaders from FLTF 1. The team was directed to Chalmette for primary and secondary searches with one squad sent to do 911 calls.
FLTF-2 conducted helicopter overflights of East Charmette to determine damage to the seach area and to assess other areas for future searches. While possible search areas were being discussed with St. Bernard Parish Fire department Captain and new search areas assigned.
FLTF-2 was split in order to send half to go search in St. Bernard while the other half paired up with FL TF-1 to search in the Ninth Ward.
Many structures in search area showed significant water damage which extended past the 5 ½ foot deep criteria set forth by IST for search. Due to Hurricane Rita’s approach, winds were above 20 mph causing safety concerns for the search teams, in addition certain areas were shown to have power. Based on these safety concerns, search efforts were discontinued for the day by TFL’s and confirmed by IST. The teams were instructed to decon and return to Base of Operations.
In the following days FLTF-2 was assigned to the Robertson Division along with California and Utah teams to search areas that met search criteria. Area recon showed several areas that had in excess of 8 feet of water. The water had subsided but certain areas still remained very muddy. The majority of these homes had a primary search completed by unknown agencies. FLTF-2 performed secondary searches of these residences and/or businesses.