Prattville sends water rescue team, officers to help in TX

Prattville sends water rescue team, officers to help in TX
(Source: WSFA 12 News)
(Source: WSFA 12 News)
(Source: WSFA 12 News)
(Source: WSFA 12 News)

PRATTVILLE, AL (WSFA) - They face long hours and grueling conditions, but first responders from Prattville are ready and willing to help those impacted by Hurricane Harvey. Police officers and firefighters from the Fountain City are deploying to Texas to help save lives in the midst of the devastation caused by severe flooding.

The request for assistance came from the state of Texas to the state of Alabama through the formal chain of command, Mayor Bill Gillespie said.

"I hope everyone keeps Houston in their prayers as well as our first responders because the request has gone out for us to provide some of our first responders to go out there," the mayor said. "I'm so proud our team is prepared."

Prattville is sending a water search and rescue team that participates in the Alabama Mutual Aid System, which is part of the Alabama Emergency Management agency.

The announcement was made Wednesday at the Prattville Public Safety Building by Mayor Gillespie, Police Chief Mark Thompson, and Fire Chief Terry Brown.

"We will send an eight member water search and rescue team to assist Texas Task Force 1 with an area that needs to be searched, that is still hasn't been searched due to being flooded out," explained Deputy Fire Chief Michael Whaley.

Whaley will be traveling with the team and is going to make sure all administration and paperwork is taken care of and that any expenses are reimbursable by the federal government due to the use of vehicles, equipment, and personnel.

"Hurricane Katrina made landfall 12 years ago today and Katrina was the last major disaster that our water rescue team responded to out of state. Twelve years later to the very same day, we are preparing to respond to another state to assist in rescue and recovery efforts. We're always very happy to help," Whaley added.

The Alabama Mutual Aid System has provided a lot of funding to Prattville over the years for equipment and vehicles, as well as training.

"All of that makes us capable and ready to do what we're called to do when the need arises," Whaley stated. "We've had major disasters here in our city. We received a lot of help from a lot of different agencies in different areas. We're fortunate enough that not being affected by this disaster, we're able to provide a little bit of that back and give back to others in need."

Mobile and Marshall County are also sending water rescue teams. All three teams will link up and head to Texas together.

Prattville police officers will also be responding to Texas. They will provide routine patrols and security.

"We've been requested to assist with Houston PD. We'll be assigned to the Houston Police Department to carry out patrol and other police duties upon arrival in Texas," Chief Thompson said. "Within ten minutes of the notice going out this morning, we had three full teams already on roster ready to go and they'll be rotated out. We estimate to leave sometime this weekend if all the paperwork goes through."

Once all of the necessary agreements are signed, the crews will be ready to leave Alabama in the next 24-36 hours for what is expected to be a seven-day mission in Texas.

Texas has requested 100 water search and rescue teams from other states. Prattville has submitted their mission readiness plans and cost estimations of $83,000. FEMA does provide reimbursements, officials said during the press conference.

"We're always willing to help and it's the same thing with all these teams throughout the country. They're always willing to return the favor. A lot of people have emailed and texted asking what they can give us and what do we need. We're fine. This is what we man up to do. This is what we prepare to do," Fire Chief Terry Brown stated.

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