Indiana Task Force 1 sends 4 to Hawaii ahead of hurricane


INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Four members of Indiana’s Task Force 1 emergency response team have been deployed in response to the incoming Hurricane Olivia in Hawaii. 

IN-Task Force 1 Program Manager Tom Neal, Task Force Leader Gerald George and Structural Specialist Scott Nacheman will deploy to Hawaii. Tom Neal is a battalion chief at the Indianapolis Fire Department. Gerald George is an assistant chief at Avon Fire, and Scott Nacheman is a civilian. 

Urban Search and Rescue Specialist and former IFD firefighter Bill Brown has also deployed from IN-Task Force 1, but to Washington D.C. instead of Honolulu. Nacheman, Neal, George are assigned to the FEMA Urban Search and Rescue Incident Support Team and Brown is assigned to FEMA Urban Search and Rescue Headquarters, according to Michael Pruitt, public information officer for IN-Task Force 1. 

“They draw from the finest that we have in the urban search and rescue system and we’ve been fortunate enough to have several people involved,” Pruitt said. 

Pruitt says right now team members have been working to create multiple contingency plans ahead of Hurricane Olivia’s arrival. 

“We provide everything from technical search with camera, listening devices, we provide hazmat, we provide medical services, we provide just the standard boots on the ground, getting out, searching door to door,” said Pruitt.

The team will also assist in humanitarian efforts and searches alongside K-9 companions. Pruitt says right now the team is also coordinating efforts for Typhoon Mangkhut in Guam. 

Just two weeks ago Hurricane Lane dropped a record 50 inches of rain on Hawaii, causing widespread flooding and damage. Hawaii is now preparing for this second tropical system to arrive expected sometime Tuesday evening into Wednesday. Pruitt says wait can make crews very restless.

“You’re very uneasy. You never know what could pop out and surprise you,” said Pruitt, remembering his FEMA trip to Puerto Rico last year. “But I think we bring a level of confidence always that we’re going to make it through and then be able to get out and deploy our forces and start helping people.” 

The latest report on Hurricane Olivia records wind speeds at 80 mph, moving at 10 mph towards Hawaii. It is currently a Category 1 storm. 

The three Hawaii-bound members of IN-Task Force 1 were deployed early Saturday morning and are anticipated to stay between 7-10 days. 

Urban Search and Rescue teams from the state of Washington and California have also joined IN-Task Force 1 in Hawaii. 

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