A call for help was sent to the Los Angeles County Fire Department ‘s California Task Force 2 (CA-TF2) as devastating flooding caused by Hurricane Harvey overwhelmed the community of Houston, Texas on Sunday, August 27, 2017. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), through the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES), activated a specialized component of CA-TF2, referred to as the Water Rescue Mission Ready Package. The group consists of 15 CA-TF2 members trained in swiftwater and flood rescue.
Led by Battalion Chief Anthony Buzzerio, the team has added ten saves to the total of 4,555 live rescues made by FEMA as of Friday, September 1. He shared that the residents have been extremely gracious and hospitable to their team. Examples include Kingwood Christian Church providing use of their parking lot as a command center and the kindness of a displaced family who insisted on giving their water and food to the team. “It is overwhelming to experience the generosity of people who have lost everything they own,” said Buzzerio.
The impact of CA-TF2 efforts can be felt in the following message sent to the LACoFD Facebook page:
“Our community was hit very hard and these men selflessly worked long grueling hours in very dangerous conditions to rescue many in our community. We are eternally grateful for everything that they have done for us. Not only are they heroes in our eyes – they are genuinely the nicest and most sincere individuals. Thank you Los Angeles County Fire Department for coming to our aid in this very difficult time.”
While in a rescue effort to aid an elderly couple trapped in their home, Buzzerio said that they were flagged down by people who discovered smoke coming from a window of a nearby house. His team was able to get inside and prevent the smoke from developing into a fire. Many residents who fled as power was down and waters rose inside their homes, left food on their electric ranges, which began to burn as power was restored.