Kansas Water Rescue Teams Return Home from Texas

Water rescue teams from agencies across Kansas who were deployed to Texas to assist in recovery efforts from Hurricane-turned-Tropical Depression Harvey have all returned to Kansas as of Tuesday, September 5th.

"This was a great effort by so many departments across the state," Randy Hill, the Kansas Office of the State Fire Marshal Search and Rescue Coordinator, said. "It was hard work. Because of the water contamination, it was imperative to wear dry suits, which were extremely steamy in the Texas heat. We kept the teams hydrated and had to work shorter cycles, but everyone worked so well together among the Kansas teams and other state's and their teams."

The crews, who left last Wednesday, and included local game wardens Michael Peterson and Todd Robinson with the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT), were tasked to search for and transport any people and animals stranded by flood waters. Kansas sent water rescue personnel, along with hard-bottom, air boats, and inflatable boats.

Kansas Search & Rescue swift-water/flood teams, along with teams from the KDWPT, worked a joint 12-hour operational period Sunday in Katy, Texas, with teams from Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Missouri. Collectively there were 15 strike teams with each team consisting of five boat squads for a total of 75 water assets. Kansas strike teams searched close to 1,200 structures and evacuated 27 individuals. In total, Sunday's joint operation resulted in over 4000 structures searched and over 100 evacuations. The teams also worked on other small assignments and were on standby as needed.

"We sent over 50 fire, law enforcement and first responder personnel to Texas," Doug Jorgensen, Kansas Fire Marshal, said. "I'm proud of the hard work and sacrifice of our Kansas first responders when it came to helping the citizens of Texas during this difficult time. They did a spectacular job down there under difficult conditions, and I'm happy they all made it back safely."

Agencies involved were: The Kansas Adjutant General's Office, Kansas Fire Marshal's Office, Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism, Derby Fire Department, Chanute Fire Department, Derby Fire Department, Hutchinson Fire Department, South Hutchinson Police Department, Manhattan Fire Department, Mission Township Fire Department, Neodesha Fire Department, Newton Fire Department/EMS, Parsons Fire Department, Pittsburg Fire Department, Salina Fire Department, Saline County Sheriff's Office, Sedgwick County Fire Department, Shawnee Fire Department, and Winfield Fire Department.