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Texas A&M Task Force teams deployed ahead of severe weather

Posted at 9:17 AM, May 20, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-20 10:18:14-04

COLLEGE STATION, TX — Texas A&M Task Force 1 stands ready in case of a weather emergency.

This week, Governor Abbott proactively called upon Texas A&M Task Force 1 and two swift water boat squads in preparation for the potential effects of severe weather.

Texas A&M Task Force 1 originated as an urban search and rescue team. They serve as one of 28 teams under the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and are directed by the Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM).

“Texas A&M task force one and task force two are secondary response and their state agencies assets for helping local governments when they need extra help,” said Jeff Saunders, director for Texas A&M Task Force 1.

When Governor Abbott requested their deployment, they had boots on the ground in about two hours.

”Texas A&M Task Force one's boat teams its six-man boat teams. They go out the door with two boats each those teams have been positioned within the state,” Saunders said.

In 2019 the Texas A&M Task Force teams were deployed on 4 separate missions tackling severe weather.

“The thing that really helps us having those boots on the ground determine how bad, bad is, so when we go into an area the next year, we’re going to have a really good idea what we’re going into,” added Saunders. “As far as swift water and severe weather goes, we’ve learned a lot,”

According to Saunders it only takes about six inches of water to sweep a car, so the Texas coined term ‘turn around don’t drown’ is something experts stress because of the lay of the land.

“We anticipate no matter how many times we say turn around don’t drown we need to be there in case somebody doesn’t heed that warning,” Saunders explained. “When people are trying to drive home and they see water, they don’t know how deep it is even if it’s something their super familiar with the depth of the water can be really deceiving,”

Currently, there are 60 men and women deployed representing Texas A&M Task Force 1 and 2.