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Bravest and finest. Two words you’ve seen associated with police officers and firefighters. (In fact, that’s what they’re referred to in New York City. New York’s bravest are those with the FDNY, the finest are with NYPD.)

Those are also two words we’d often use to describe the first responders with know and work with.

As floodwaters leftover from Hurricane Matthew continue to rise in some places, we have deployed some of the country’s bravest and finest into those waters to help impacted communities.

Over the last several days, the ten teams we’ve deployed from Indiana, Maryland, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Virginia have all jumped right in to help respond. As of today, they’ve completed 75 water rescues.

These teams were deployed to help their state and local brothers and sisters—as they also have been working tirelessly to rescue people who were put in harm’s way by rushing water.

Check out this video of one of our teams in action.

Water rescues by FEMA USAR teams ongoing in Lumberton, NC #Matthew pic.twitter.com/F2T1feHPDP

— femaregion4 (@femaregion4) October 10, 2016

Bravest and finest, for sure.

We have 28 of these teams standing by, ready to go at a moment’s notice. It’s the way the system was designed. There are always 28 teams ready to go, each with at least 140 members.

The training is tough, the jobs are tough.

The jobs are worth it.

These teams, they’re made up of first responders from the communities you know and live in.

Virginia’s Task Force 1, part of Fairfax County Fire and Rescue, saw action as part of the response to the Nepal earthquake when they were deployed by the US Agency for International Development. (They are one of very few internationally-trained teams that can go abroad and perform search and rescue.)

Our newest team, the one from New Jersey, has members hailing from each of the state’s 21 counties.

Becoming a team isn’t easy. Besides going through all the standard training and requirements to become an officer or firefighter, there are particular FEMA trainings to undergo as well.

New Jersey’s team, after a vacancy opened, went through a process for nearly a year to be deemed ready and able to deploy as a federal asset. Now, just weeks after getting word that they were officially part of the federal system, they got the call. They really jumped right in.

We’re extremely grateful for these teams and the people who serve on them. It’s a hard job, taking them away from their hometowns and their families, but their service definitely does not go unnoticed or unappreciated.

(And as a friendly reminder, if you’re returning home to an impacted area, please remember this very catchy phrase: Turn Around, Don’t Drown. It could save your life.)

 

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