County Task Force Deploys to Houston

Alameda County Task Force 4     Members of Alameda County Task Force 4 listen to a briefing on the ground in Texas in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. The task force, which includes the Alameda Fire Department, departed for Houston on Aug. 26.


On Friday, Aug. 25, Gov. Jerry Brown ordered search-and-rescue task forces across the state to aid the national response to Hurricane Harvey. Alameda County Task Force 4 was among the task forces that Brown ordered to Texas. Alameda Fire Department is a member of Task Force 4. 

“We deployed Saturday night around 10 p.m., and drove straight through to San Antonio, Tex., arriving around 6 p.m. Monday night,” Oakland Fire Department Battalion Chief Robert Lipp, a member of the task force, wrote in a Facebook post.

Task force members spent the night at College Station, Tex., and then drove to Fulshear and Simonton, where they began evacuating residents by boat. 

“We also had the unique experience of opening gates and fences to allow large livestock to escape the flooding,” Lipp wrote.

They stayed in a base camp set up in Katy, Tex., and spent Thursday, Aug. 31, and Friday, Sept. 1, in Wharton, helping trapped residents evacuate to safety. 

“We have been working very long hours, doing arduous tasks.” Lipp wrote. “However, all of our team members are proud of our accomplishments in helping the people of Texas, and take great satisfaction in the positive impact we have had on the communities where we have been assigned. We don’t know what tomorrow has in store, but we will be up early and prepared to move to whatever area needs our assistance.” 

Alameda County Task Force 4 served at the World Trade Center in New York City in the days following the 9-11 attack. The task force also saw front-line service in the wake of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans in August and September 2005 and after Hurricane Rita in September of that same year.   

Forty-seven members of the team returned home, arriving to a heroes’ welcome at Oakland International Airport on Labor Day evening. The remaining 26 members are driving equipment back to California and are expected home Thursday, Sept. 7, or Friday, Sept. 8.