ROCKVILLE, Md. (WJZ) — Search and rescue teams from Maryland and Virginia fire departments are on their way to Louisiana and Texas to help with the response after Hurricane Laura made landfall as a Category 4 storm.

These specialized teams are trained to handle rescues in a water environment and a collapsed building environment.

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“They can do water operations meaning they can extricate or rescue people their stranded environments,” Montgomery County Fire Chief Scott Goldstein said.

Maryland Task Force 1, an urban search and rescue team with more than a dozen Montgomery County Fire & Rescue Service and FEMA vehicles, left around 1:30 a.m. Thursday. It’s their first deployment during the coronavirus pandemic, spokesman Pete Piringer said.

FEMA activated the team around 8 p.m. Thursday.

About 45 first responders from MCFRS and allied staff from Prince George’s County Fire and Howard County Fire and Rescue Service are taking the necessary precautions.

“Rescuing somebody from a collapsed concrete structure is quite a significant task and one that most local fire departments don’t have the capabilities for, but these search and rescue teams do,” Goldstein said.

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Fairfax County Fire & Rescue Department in northern Virginia also left early Thursday morning with a 45-person “type 3” task force to help Gulf Coast residents.

“We wish our team, and all FEMA teams enroute, safe travels as they head to the Gulf region to help those in need,” the tweet reads.


“It’s a great honor that we’re able to travel miles and miles away and help an impacted local community in the same way that we do on a daily basis here at home,” Goldstein added.

Laura made landfall as a category 4 storm and is now a category 2 storm as it moves over land.

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For the latest on the storm, you can watch CBSN Dallas-Fort Worth.

Stetson Miller