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Heading into danger: Texas A&M Task Force deploys to Florida ahead of Hurricane Idalia

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(The Center Square) – Members of the Texas A&M Task Force 1 deployed to Florida on Tuesday ahead of Hurricane Idalia to help Floridians.

Gov. Greg Abbott directed the Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM) to deploy the task force, saying, “The State of Texas is sending personnel and resources to Florida as Hurricane Idalia prepares to make landfall in Florida tomorrow.

“Texans understand the urgency of preparing hurricane disaster response and recovery efforts. Texas is swiftly deploying assets to assist our fellow Americans in Florida as they brace for this devastating storm. Our country is stronger when we come together in times of crisis—and Texas is answering the call to support the people of Florida through this hurricane.”

Texas A&M Task Force 1 deployed “Type 3” urban search-and-rescue teams consisting of 46 personnel, 4 boats, and 4 canines at the request of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

The task force functions as one of 28 federal teams under FEMA’s National Urban Search and Rescue System. It’s also one of two statewide search-and-rescue teams under TDEM’s direction. Texas A&M Task Force 1 is sponsored by the Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service (TEEX), a member of The Texas A&M University System, headquartered in College Station, Texas.

They deployed Tuesday ahead of the hurricane, expected to make landfall early Wednesday morning.

As of Tuesday, evacuation orders have been issued in 22 Florida counties, with 49 under a state of emergency.

Tropical Storm Idalia strengthened to a Category 1 hurricane on Tuesday and is expected to rapidly intensify into a major hurricane. Floridians have been warned about likely life-threatening storm surge and dangerous winds along portions of Florida’s Gulf Coast.

A storm surge watch is in effect along Florida’s Gulf Coast from the Charlotte/Sarasota County border to the Collier/Monroe County border, including Charlotte Harbor.

A storm surge warning is in effect along the Gulf Coast from the Charlotte/Sarasota border to the Franklin/Gulf County border, including Tampa Bay.

A tropical storm watch is in effect for inland Collier and the Lower Keys.

A tropical storm warning is in effect for 29 counties: Baker, Bradford, Brevard, Charlotte, Clay, coastal Collier, DeSoto, Duval, inland Franklin, Flagler, Gadsden, Gulf, Hardee, Lake, Lee, Leon, Liberty, Central and Eastern Marion, Nassau, Orange, Osceola, Polk, Putnam, Sarasota, Seminole, St. Johns, Union, Volusia, and inland Wakulla, as well as the Dry Tortugas.

A hurricane watch is in effect for eight counties: eastern Alachua, Baker, Bradford, Leon, central Marion, Sarasota, Union, and inland Wakulla.

A hurricane warning is in effect for 21 counties: western Alachua, Citrus, Columbia, Dixie, coastal Franklin, Gilchrist, Hamilton, Hernando, Hillsborough, Jefferson, Lafayette, Levy, Madison, Manatee, western Marion, Pasco, Pinellas, Sumter, Suwanee, Taylor, and coastal Wakulla.

The Florida National Guard has been fully activated, with 3,700 guardsmen already mobilized with another 1,800 guardsmen on the way to provide preparedness and response efforts.

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