Peninsula-based fire team ready to help after Oklahoma tornado 

click to enlarge In this Tuesday, May 21, 2013 aerial photo, emergency responders make their way down a street of damaged homes following Monday's tornado in Moore, Oklahoma. - ASSOCIATED PRESS
  • Associated Press
  • In this Tuesday, May 21, 2013 aerial photo, emergency responders make their way down a street of damaged homes following Monday's tornado in Moore, Oklahoma.

An urban search-and-rescue team based in Menlo Park is ready to  respond to Moore, Okla., where crews continue to search for survivors of a deadly tornado that struck Monday.

California Task Force 3 Urban Search and Rescue Team Program Director Tim Campbell said the 80-person force is standing by should the call come in from the Federal Emergency Management Agency that more rescue resources are needed to search for victims in the coming days.

Other USAR teams comprising firefighters, paramedics, canine search dogs and structural engineers have already been sent to Oklahoma from Texas, Nebraska and Tennessee, Campbell said.

“This is the first time they’ve sent this many resources to respond to a tornado,” he said.

The tornado claimed dozens of lives and its debris field was reported to be around 20 miles long, he said.

The Menlo Park-based Task Force 3 will remain on standby throughout the week if more resources are called in.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if that was going to happen, especially if there are more tornadoes throughout the week,” he said.

There is one other USAR team in the Bay Area, based out of Oakland, but Campbell said that team has also not yet been deployed.

There are 28 USAR teams nationwide that can be called on by FEMA to assist with major disasters. The last time the Menlo Park team was deployed was in 2008, after Hurricane Gustav hit the Gulf Coast states.  

The American Red Cross Bay Area Chapter is also ready to send a team to Oklahoma if more volunteer resources are needed, spokeswoman Liz  Shemaria said.

No teams from the Bay Area have been called in so far, she said.

In the meantime, the Red Cross is accepting donations that will help tornado victims with “food, shelter and emotional support,” Shemaria said.

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