First Response Team of America Joins Flood Rescue Efforts

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Flooding in Wayne, 3/8, 2011 by Wheeler Antabanez

UPDATE: Governor Christie and Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno are in the area, taking a Friday afternoon tour of flood ravaged Wayne and Pompton Lakes. The National Weather Service is warning that the worst flooding is still to come, as the water levels of the Passaic keep rising. Residents are urged to evacuate.

As the water continues to rise around the Passaic River, the Mayor of Little Falls has authorized the mobilization of all emergency management preparations.

The Township of Little Falls has posted an update, urging residents to prepare for evacuation. A shelter has been set up at the Civic Center on Warren Street.

All weather agencies have agreed that the oncoming rain event will increase flooding beyond the levels experienced earlier this week.
Little Falls has spent the week preparing its early warning system, evacuation plans and shelter. In addition the Township has made sand and sand bags available to its residents. This effort was aided by the Passaic County Sheriff’s Labor Assistance Program. Workers from the SLAP fill sand bags that were quickly utilized by residents of the flood prone area. Water levels are estimated to rise to 10’ 6” by early Sunday. Residents are urged to be prepared to evacuate immediately upon notice from local authority. Notifying residents to leave their homes is a drastic measure that we take very seriously, but the health and safety of the public is our top priority.

Our local flooding problems caught the attention of the First Response Team of America, a non-profit organization that responds to disasters, free of charge, armed with specialized equipment, advanced communication systems and a commitment to save lives and help communities in need. Under the direction of Tad Agoglia, who created the organization in 2007, the team has responded to more than 30 tornadoes, floods, windstorms, wildfires, hurricanes, earthquakes and ice storms nationwide.

By studying weather patterns and communicating regularly with leading meteorologists, the team anticipates when and where the next disaster may hit. They position their rapid response team near storm locations nationwide and, when alerted to potential disaster, deploy immediately with their fleet of specialized equipment. Today’s raging disaster happens to be our own.

Baristanet discovered that Agoglia and his team were en route to help with our hyperlocal flooding via a facebook post and reached out to them while they were somewhere in Pennsylvania.

Agoglia wrote in an email to Baristanet:

Essentially, fire departments are responsible for water rescues. We are just looking for a fire department that may need a hand. We have been to about 35 disasters thus far, and sometimes we have found with large disasters local resources are overwhelmed.

We have a hovercraft with us, underwater cameras to check cars and cold water ice suits. There is no charge for our assistance. We are a non-profit and never charge the communities we help out.

Last heard from, just before 7 p.m., the First Response Team of America had arrived at the Fairfield Fire Department and were about to head into a planning and information meeting. They will spend the night at the fire station and be on call there, although based on information from local officials, Agoglia said that they expected to begin rescue work in the morning. When asked if he expected to have to rescue people who refuse to evacuate, he stated that this is sometimes the case.

If you or anyone you know needs assistance, call the Flood Emergency Hotline number 973-256-6538 and/or dial 9-1-1. Are you in the flood zone? Are you evacuating?

For more information and emergency contacts, click here.

Here are some photos of the First Response Team of America at work last April during severe flooding in Cranson, Rhode Island.

Photos of Wayne by Wheeler Antabanez.

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5 COMMENTS

  1. While I do of course empathize with those threatened by flood waters in towns like Little Falls and Wayne, I also have to wonder why the authorities continue to allow people to live in such areas. Surely there is a point where common sense dictates a move? Areas thusly where sane people do not buy?

    I’ve even heard some people on TV claiming they weren’t adequately informed of the dangers of the area before they bought there. But I can’t really buy that one, either, since there is a point where the old dictum of “caveat emptor” really should prevail. The area has a terrible history in terms of flooding, after all, and it is also a well-publicized history. Amazingly, some of the folks whose homes are now at peril are, according to TV newspeople, new/recent homeowners. If that is truly the case, then they should be knocked on the head for their utter foolishness and the realtors who connived to sell them their homes should be flogged through the streets.

    Ah well, at least it’s nt quite as bad as the situation in Sea Bright and Monmouth Beach, an area where common sense alone should have dictated that people should neither buy nor build there. And yet, with each storm we are presented with images of the “brave” residents of Sea Bright, who really all should have known better by this point. (And who invariably have their hands out post-storm for Federal funds for, at the very least, “beach replenishmwnt.” Which is a truly dumb construct that must set Mother Nature to wild laughter each time the phrase is uttered.)

  2. A lot of low laying areas are developed because Federal Flood Insurance is available courtesy of the US taxpayer.

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