Utah’s elite ‘Task Force One’ deploys to hurricane-ravaged Texas

Posted at 5:38 PM, Aug 28, 2017
and last updated 2017-08-29 09:17:04-04

SALT LAKE CITY -- Utah Task Force One, an elite team of highly-trained first responders, has deployed to Texas to help deal with the devastation of Hurricane Harvey.

On Thursday, the Federal Emergency Management Agency called with a request, and first thing Friday morning, an eleven-vehicle convoy drove out and the team has been in Houston ever since, saving lives.

Fox News interviewed Shaun Kinney from Salt Lake City Sunday night.

"We’re with Utah Task Force One," Kinney said.  "We drove here from Utah and our initial assignment was to collect the people that were prioritized as medically sick and unable to get themselves out of the house."

Kinney is one of 46 local first responders in Texas right now.  Fox 13 spoke on the phone with task force leader Wade Russell about what they've been seeing.

"The water moves in and out really quickly so you'll have low-lying areas that don't get a lot of rain water and within minutes they can be inundated with 10 to12 feet of water," Russell said.

"Our task force prioritized people that the calls came in from 911 who needed the most, significant help," Kinney said.   "They couldn't get out on their own, they were wheelchair-bound or sick or afflicted, had heart problems or any kind of issues with their health."

They've rescued a lot of animals and all kinds of different people.

"We have rescued people all the way from small infants, six months old to yesterday we had a patient that was over a 100 years old," Russell said.

However, they all have one thing in common:  immense gratitude.

"People were very happy to get away from the area they were in and happy to see us and be out of that flooded area," Russell said.

The Utah National Guard has already sent two Blackhawk helicopters and they're currently on standby, ready and willing to help in any way they can, according to Utah Lt. Governor, Spencer Cox.

"Any and all resources are available so when we get that call from their governor we`re ready to go," Cox said.

As for Utah Task Force One, it could be weeks before they're back home.

"This is a long haul," Kinney said.  "This is going to take a long time."

The Red Cross in Utah has also sent several volunteers to Texas and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has sent three trucks with water and other critical supplies.