Bay Area team responds to Hurricane Gustav 

A 23-member Bay Area search and rescue team will leave this afternoon to pick up additional team members in San Diego before flying to Atlanta in response to Hurricane Gustav, according to the Menlo Park Fire Protection District.

The fire district sponsors the California Urban Search and Rescue Task Force Three, which is deploying firefighters from the Central County, San Mateo, South San Francisco, Mountain View, Santa Clara and San Jose fire departments; a doctor from San Francisco General Hospital; NASA team members; a San Francisco structural engineer and dog handlers as part of the hurricane response, fire district Chief Harold Schapelhouman said.

The 23 members of the Bay Area team will leave from San Francisco International Airport around 4 p.m. today and pick up another 22-member team from San Diego before flying to Atlanta on a charter flight, Schapelhouman said.

Twelve other members from the task force left with 30,000 pounds of equipment Saturday, he said. The Category 3 hurricane response has not been changed despite Hurricane Gustav's current status as a Category 2 hurricane, Schapelhouman said.

The Menlo Park Fire District-sponsored team is one of five Urban Search and Rescue Teams and eight Swift Water Rescue Teams deployed from California, according to Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's office. A total of 302 personnel from the Office of Emergency Services and state and local fire agencies have been deployed, officials said.

In addition, 29 personnel, two helicopters and a fixed wing aircraft from the California National Guard have been activated to support the Air National Guard rescue missions in Louisiana, according to the governor's office.

Schwarzenegger issued a statement today regarding Hurricane Gustav, which was centered on the Louisiana coast around noon local time today and forecast to spread northwest into Texas within the next one to three days, according to the National Hurricane Center.

"We in California, just as those in Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi, know too well the potential for tragedy due to natural disasters, and California stands ready to help those in the Gulf region in any way that we can. Our thoughts are with the evacuees, first responders and emergency personnel, and all those affected by Gustav," the governor said.

Schapelhouman said the task force will follow the hurricane, providing aid to affected communities. Team members will also be prepared for Hurricane Hanna, which is expected to hit the states around Friday, according to Schapelhouman.

Bay City News

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A daily newspaper covering San Francisco, San Mateo County and serving Alameda, Marin and Santa Clara counties.
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