Emergency Management

Puget Sound USAR team’s work in New York comes to an end
Posted By Sheri Badger on Sep 27th, 2001 at 8:12 AM

Tacoma, WA – September 27, 2001 – Maj. Tom Miner of the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department, who is in New York City with the Puget Sound Urban Search and Rescue Task Force (WATF- 1), filed this report: Things are winding down for the FEMA US&R task forces. Today (9/25/01) the decision was made to downgrade to only two task forces per shift. WATF 1 was advised that today was its last shift on the rubble pile. Operations were shut down early today to pull down the free standing outer wall of the south tower. Cables were attached to it and pulled it over. Prior to doing that WATF 1 and FLTF 2 did a search of what was left of the Vista Hotel. About four floors of the hotel remain and needed to be cleared before the tower wall was collapsed down onto it. Once cleared the task force marched as a unit to the command post at station 1010 and presented a centennial American Flag the team found in the debris pile to the command staff of the FDNY along with a helmet signed by all the members of the task force. Once again WATF 1 is a class act. It should make front page news tomorrow back there. The plan is for the team to stand down tomorrow (Wednesday). Some tours are planned of the Statue of Liberty and the Empire State Building. Then the team will repack the cache and travel on Thursday to McGuire AFB and fly home Friday. It has been well worth our time back here but it is time to come home. Thanks for all the support and messages. Much appreciated.

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Puget Sound USAR team gains access to unsearched voids
Posted By Sheri Badger on Sep 25th, 2001 at 11:11 AM

Tacoma, WA – September 25, 2001 – Maj. Tom Miner of the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department, who is in New York City with the Puget Sound Urban Search and Rescue Task Force (WATF-1), filed this report: Last night was a good night for all. The prior day shift was not so good. Day shift for WATF 1 was a lot of sitting and watching heavy equipment tear apart the building. The team was assigned to the west sector where the heavy equipment has easy access to the debris pile. This is very frustrating for all the rescue teams who have been assigned this sector. They hardly stop to allow any search of new void spaces. The other side, east sector, has only limited access and one crane. So there is much more work to be done by ground teams. They need to cut the steel beams before they can be lifted out one at a time and while that is being done much searching can be accomplished. Last night the team was assigned to the same area but convinced the FDNY chief that there were some voids that had not been searched and that they could reach if he would allow it. He did and sure enough our team was able to gain access to the lowest sub basement where they found large open areas including a trapped subway train. There were no survivors but they did find several victims in the debris on the periphery of the void space. The void had been reached by others but it had not been searched as thouroughly as our folks did. They were pulled out at the end of shift and other teams are continuing to search the further depths of the void. Everyone should be poud of the Washington team. They are asked for by the FDNY teams to assist them with the most difficult of tasks because we have been aggressive in our search for any possibly open space where people could have survived or where access can be made to recover remains. FDNY has produced its first incident Action Plan and we have some clear goals and objectives for everyone involved in the incident. My situation unit has been producing all of the maps, charts and briefing documents for FDNY, FEMA and most everyone else involved in the incident. We are making extensive use of GIS technology to produce quality maps, floorplans and to track search progress and damage to buildings.

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Puget Sound USAR team makes progress at WTC site
Posted By Sheri Badger on Sep 24th, 2001 at 2:14 AM

Tacoma, WA – September 24, 2001 – Maj. Tom Miner of the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department, who is in New York City with the Puget Sound Urban Search and Rescue Task Force (WATF-1), filed this report: For the first time since arriving the US&R task forces had pretty much free reign in the pile for most of the night. All eight teams were working at the same time. Some were cutting steel with the steel workers, others were filling huge dumpsters using shovels and buckets while our team and some of the fire department Special Operations crews were searching voids. Our team has been inside the building all the way to the subway. They have crawled through the twisted maze of steel and found numerous new voids not previously searched. You would all be proud of WATF-1. These guys rock. They have really impressed the FDNY folks. They ask for those “Washington guys” when they want help with a difficult task. Just as they did in Oklahoma, our team has made a very positive impression with everyone on the incident. The bad news is that no new victims were recovered. I spent about an hour talking to one FDNY firefighter who survived. These guys are finally realizing that it is highly unlikely that anyone is coming out alive. The reality is finally setting in as funerals begin and memorials are held. They will be a long time in coming to terms with this event. This guy lost 35 close friends in a matter of seconds. I cannot imagine such a loss. The reality is that we have just scratched the surface of this structure with all the time and work that has been done. Looking at the two mounds that are the twin towers, one realizes that it will take a very long time and some very heavy equipment to clear away all the steel. In Oklahoma by this time we could see the light at the end of the tunnel. We haven’t even entered the tunnel yet and there is no light. It looks like we will be demobilizing on the 26th or 27th.

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Puget Sound USAR team members say WTC scene is ‘unbelievable’
Posted By Sheri Badger on Sep 21st, 2001 at 3:02 AM

Tacoma, WA – September 21, 2001 – The Puget Sound Urban Search and Rescue Task Force departed from McChord AFB Sept. 19 for New York to assist with recovery operations. The 62-member team was placed on alert by the Federal Emergency Management Agency in response to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks against the United States. The team is on site and working 12 hour shifts day and night. The scene is described as unbelievable. Only about 1 percent of the debris has been moved so far. The base of operations has been established at the Javitz Center about 30 blocks from the operational area. Task leaders have been given a tour of the disaster scene, which covers a 14 block area, with heavy security and traffic congestion. Fires are still burning under the rubble, while workers are pulling debris off and hauling it away. When they hit a void space that area is searched. Many of the foundations of the surrounding buildings were damaged by attack and are below sea level with sea water beginning to seep into the area below the disaster site. Providing meals to workers on site is an immense job. Businesses in the area still are without power. More than 120,000 donation phone calls have been made. The list goes on. Six FEMA Urban Search and Rescue Task Forces, including Puget Sound, are engaged in operations at the World Trade Center site. Three task forces are demobilizing and two are staging at McGuire AFB in New Jersey. Six additional task forces remain on alert. FEMA advises that donations can be made by calling the State of New York donations coordination hotline at 1-800-801-8092. Donations also can go to the following special relief funds: World Trade Center, New York State Relief Fund PO Box 5028 Albany, NY 12205 FEEA World Trade Center/Pentagon Fund Suite 200 8441 W. Bowles Ave. Littleton, CO 80123 New York City Police Department Memorial Fund One Police Plaza New York, NY 10038 The New York Firefighters 911 Disaster Relief Fund c/o Firehouse.com 9658 Baltimore Avenue, Suite 350 College Park, MD 20740

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Search and rescue team leaves for New York September 19
Posted By Sheri Badger on Sep 16th, 2001 at 8:48 AM

Tacoma, WA – September 14, 2001 – The Puget Sound Urban Search and Rescue Task Force will be deployed on Sept. 19 to assist with recovery efforts in New York. The 62-member team was placed on alert by the Federal Emergency Management Agency in response to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks against the United States. Pierce County, which coordinates the multi-agency team, began mobilizing the task force immediately after the alert. Members were being called at their places of businesses and-or homes and requested to report immediately to McChord Air Force Base to prepare gear and supplies for deployment. The task force includes representatives from Pierce County, City of Tacoma, City of Seattle, King County and other jurisdictions. One of more than 25 response teams developed by FEMA, it was mobilized for the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, the federal courthouse bombing in Oklahoma City in 1995, the Northridge, Calif., earthquake in 1994, and Typhoon Bryan in Guam in 1992.

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