Beach firefighters lead search-and-rescue task force to Columbia, S.C.

Forty-six members of the Virginia Beach Fire Department are leading a multi-jurisdictional task force to help search, rescue and recovery efforts in flooded South Carolina, according to the department.

The public can follow their work on Facebook, where the group is chronicling its mission on the page titled, “Virginia Task Force 2 Urban Search and Rescue Team.”

“VA-TF 2 has departed the FTC for Columbia, SC at 00:30 hours with 80 personnel and 5 canines,” the group posted early Monday.

Just before 11 a.m. they posted that the 12-vehicle convoy, including three tractor trailers, two tour buses and six boats, had arrived at the South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy in Columbia after having to navigate several detours because of flooding, including on the main interstate.

“The 80 member team and 5 canines are doing well. Ready to go to work,” they posted.

At 3 p.m. they reported on their Facebook page that the team is searching and performing reconnaissance in Richland County, just south and east of Columbia.

In all, 80 members of the 226-member task force were deployed. The group is “a specialized rescue organization comprised of highly trained firefighters, EMS personnel, dog handlers engineers and physicians from across the region,” according to a press release from the Virginia Beach Fire Department.

The task force is organized and managed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, according to the release.

The Virginia Beach Fire Department is the task force’s sponsoring agency, “which means we are responsible for every aspect of the team including the auditing of Federal funding,” Beach Fire spokesman Art Kohn said by email.

The team is expected to be deployed in South Carolina for as long as a week, according to the department’s release.

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