Utah’s Task Force 1 members, who offered assistance in Hawaii during Hurricane Lane, returning home

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WEST JORDAN, Utah – Two Utahns tasked with helping Hawaiians during Hurricane Lane are heading home.

They are part of Utah’s Task Force 1 – one of 28 federal disaster teams located across the country. FEMA dispatched the team members ahead of Hurricane Lane. The Type 3 teams are deployed from California, and Washington with 45 members.

“When we arrive, we’re self-sufficient for up to 72 hours – sometimes up to 96 hours at a time. In that sense we can hit the ground running,” said Bryan Case, Program Manager of Utah Task Force 1.

Although Hawaii avoided a direct hit by Hurricane Lane, it devastated parts of the Big Island with extreme rainfall, leading to significant flash flooding.

“It did seem like they dodged a bullet,” said Case. “It’s primarily a water rescue event. Doing wellness checks, and checking back on areas they didn’t have access to because of swollen rivers or rainfall. The latest reports were they were expecting about 3 feet of rain in some areas, within the last 48 hours.”

When natural disasters strike, FEMA calls on these specially trained teams to assist in planning, coordination and execution.

“We have 19 formal positions on our task force. Some of our rescue technicians and more of our technical search specialists have literally committed hundreds, if not thousands of hours to craft their skill,” said Case.

This is their first deployment so far this year. But whereever their next mission is, they’ll be ready.

“FEMA is as big machine, and we’re a small sliver of the overall machine,” said Case. “We’re the response ahead of the storm, and the immediate response during the storm.”

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