Emergency personnel across the country are gearing up for hurricane Gustav, expected to hit the gulf coast early next week, and 37 firefighters from Orange County will be among those prepared for the impact.
This morning, firefighters from Orange County received a FEMA request for aid as Gulf officials keep an eye on Gustav, a tropical storm that was upgraded to a category 1 hurricane today.
Firefighters from the Orange County Fire Authority, and Santa Ana, Orange and Anaheim fire departments, geared up at OCFA headquarters to deploy within four hours. The task force is required to arrive in Houston, Texas, by Sunday, said Battalion Chief Rob Patterson of the OCFA.
Ladened with supplies for the anticipated storm, the 37 firefighters are scheduled to depart on buses and cars by 2 p.m., Patterson said.
Three years after Katrina struck the gulf coast, Gustav is expected to hit somewhere between Florida and eastern Texas.
The crew being sent to Texas is a type 3 task force geared for swift and maneuverable urban rescue.
“This is the best of the best,” Patterson said.
Two stations are being set up in anticipation of the storm, Patterson said — one stationed to the east and another to the west of the storm. From across the country, somewhere around 500 to 800 emergency personnel are being called to the area.
The teams also include equipment and personnel from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, and the Los Angeles County, Chino Hills and Montebello fire departments.
OCFA Capt. Mike Blawn said it is unknown how long the Orange County teams will be deployed in Texas. It all depends on the severity of the storm and the damage caused, he said.
Orange County firefighters are able to deploy up to three teams to the region while still maintaining enough resources to address local emergencies, Patterson said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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