Two members of Utah Task Force 1 help in aftermath of hurricane Ian
WEST JORDAN, Utah – As the east coast continues to battle Tropical Storm Ian, two members of Utah Task Force 1 are in Florida assisting FEMA with urban search and rescue logistics.
Captain Keith Bevan and Embret Fossom were initially deployed to Puerto Rico on September 17th to assist with local jurisdiction for Tropical Cyclone Fiona but were recently rerouted to Florida to prepare for Hurricane Ian.
“We direct the boots on the ground, the urban search and rescue task forces go out and perform water rescues, wide area searches and active rescues in structures that have been damaged by the storm,” Kevin Bevan, who is stationed at the Orange County Convention Center said.
Bevan is one of approximately 850 FEMA employees in Florida right now working on the aftermath of Ian, that includes 7 urban search and rescue teams similar to UT-UF1 ready or already deployed, and two that were positioned before the storm hit.
“It’s very early in the operation right now, there is plenty of work to be done in the next handful of days,” Bevan said.
Bevan said water rescues started around 2:00 a.m. Thursday and have continued throughout the day.
“That’s what they’re doing right now, block by block clearing the barrier islands, trying to gain access,” Bevan said.
Access is a big issue facing rescue teams right now, with a number of infrastructures along the coast damaged or destroyed.
“One of the big ones I just heard just a little while ago is Ft. Meyers Beach is completely devastated, so that’s their big focus right now,” Bevan said.
The biggest worry for first responders right now is safety, according to Bevan.
“Ultimately, we’re trying to do it as fast as we can and that’s why we really we look at how we preposition these resources so that as soon as it’s safe to move, like we did placing those resources in Miami to coming up behind the storm and not waiting for it to come completely over the top of us was a big benefit,” said Bevan.
It’s unknown if more members of UT-TF1 will be called upon to assist with rescue and recovery with Ian, but with each natural disaster Bevan says Utah only becomes more prepared for the future.
“We’re very luck to live where we live, we always make the joke we’re the 49th state out of 50 where nothing happens, which is good and bad, but we have great support from our local elected officials, executives, fire chiefs and that that allow us to go out and participate at a level like this and bring this back to Utah,” Bevan said. “So Utah has individuals that have a lot of experience and bring that home and can use that if and when anything happens in Utah.”
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