Virginia Task Force 2 Begins Demobilization

Monday, September 25, 2017

After three weeks on the ground in San Juan, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands, two major hurricanes and back to back deployments, FEMA's Urban Search and Rescue Team, Virginia Task Force 2 is preparing to come home.  VA-TF2, still in San Juan, is in the process of transitioning operations to other federal taskforces brought in to relieve the Virginia Beach based team.

Since the team returned to San Juan on September 18th, VA-TF 2 has worked long hours over the past eight days to assist the survivors of hurricane Maria. The Taskforce sheltered in place as "Maria" passed near their Base of Operations (BoO) on Wednesday September 20 as a category 4 hurricane with sustained winds of 150 mph. The structural engineers were instrumental in working with the Task Force Leaders to determine a safe area in the BoO to ride out the deadly storm. Once conditions allowed, the Taskforce immediately went to work, removing large obstructions and trees that impacted the BoO as Maria passed. 

​fThe next day, Thursday, September 21, 2017, VA-TF 2 was operational in several heavily damaged areas in Puerto Rico. The Toa Baja area experienced heavy flooding. Using boats and high water vehicles, VA-TF 2 rescued civilians and evacuated others who were trapped by waters as high as eight foot.  Other teams were active in the cities of San Juan, Ponce, Aguadilla, Mayaguez, Hormigueros, Cabo Rojo, San German,  Querbradillas, and Isabela. Despite the challenges created by flood waters and  mountainous terrain, VA-TF 2 visited 2,311 structures, assisted 51 citizens, evacuated 18 individuals, rescued 3 others, and identified 60 roads that were blocked.  The Taskforce made multiple contacts with Mayors, Police Chiefs, and government officials, hospitals, and other medical care facilities to determine community needs.  Also, VA-TF 2's structural engineers assessed and surveyed a dam in the North West part of Puerto Rico to determined degradation and potential for failure as flood waters continued to rise and threaten the integrity of the structure and the safety of many people depending on the dam to hold back the rising water. 

The 80 members of VA-TF 2 will arrive back in Hampton Roads once the demobilization process is complete.  The date and time will be provided once travel is confirmed.