BOSTON (CBS) — The Massachusetts FEMA search team, based in Beverly, received an order to mobilize so they can assist the rescue efforts in areas devastated by Hurricane Harvey.
The 16 members, primarily volunteers, equipped with flat bottom boats and a few inflatable boats, left early Sunday evening.
Former State Public Safety Commissioner Tom Gatzunis might also be joining them soon.
He said their mission is simple: “get people who are trapped, get them into the boat, get them off to safety and then they’ll be transported by other members, whether it’s different task force or other local responders.”
The team is specially trained to respond whenever and where they are needed. This trip is expected to last two weeks, or however long it takes.
More members may also be headed to Texas in the next few days.
“We’re looking at a canine package, or a hazmat package, or a rescue package. These are going down at what we call a type three, which is probably a 35 person team,” said Mike Foster from the FEMA Task Force.
“We all look at it as ‘that could be my wife, my child,'” said Gatzunis. “So if we don’t do it for others who will do it for us? So every one of us wants to be there to help anybody who is in need.”
Massachusett members of the Coast Guard are also helping rescue efforts in Texas.
Officials said two MH-60 Jayhawk Helicopters and an HC-144 Ocean Sentry fixed wing aircraft left from Cape Cod on Saturday. 18 crew members and nine other personnel also headed to the Aviation Training Center in Mobile, Alabama to help.
As of Sunday morning, officials said the Air Station Cape Cod crews had conducted 14 rescues in the Houston area.
Governor Charlie Baker’s office said that his “thoughts and prayers are with those impacted by Hurricane Harvey and the first responders and volunteers working to assist them. The administration has been in communication with emergency management officials in Texas and Louisiana to offer support and resources as needed.”