The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

Brazos County officials are distributing free backpacks, school supplies and gift cards for K-12 students on July 12 from 3:30 to 6:30 p.m. at the Bryan High Silver Campus Cafeteria.
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Texas A&M infielder Ali Camarillo (2) thros to first during Texas A&M’s game against Louisiana at the NCAA Bryan-College Station Regional Final at Olsen Field on Sunday, June 2, 2024. (Chris Swann/The Battalion)
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Bob Rogers, holding a special edition of The Battalion.
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Chancellor John Sharp during a Board of Regents meeting discussing the appointmet of interim dean Mark Welsh and discussion of a McElroy settlement on Sunday, July 30, 2023 in the Memorial Student Center.
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Texas A&M System Chancellor John Sharp announced Monday he will be retiring on June 30, 2025.  A figure notorious in state politics,...

Texas Task Force 1 prepares for upcoming hurricane season

Task+Force+1
Photo by Photo by Mason Rackley
Task Force 1

Texas Task Force (TX-TF1), an elite urban search and rescue team, is preparing to rescue civilians in extreme hurricane conditions.
The task force prepares for hurricane season with intense training and a cache of sophisticated search-and-rescue tools. The team, which operates under the Texas A&M University engineering extension, assists disaster relief efforts across the nation and can operate self-sufficiently for 72 hours. Chancellor John Sharp said that for all the work TX-TF1 does, they go surprisingly unnoticed.
“It is an amazing group of men and women who do an amazing amount of work for the people of Texas, and almost nobody knows about them,” Sharp said. “It’s very frustrating to me that everybody doesn’t know that they’re being rescued by a bunch of Aggies.”
Since its inception in 1997, TX-TF1 has been deployed at disasters such as the Aggie bonfire collapse, the 9/11 attacks and Hurricane Katrina, according to Sharp.
“When Hurricane Sandy hits, who’s the first team to go to New York? Task Force 1,” Sharp said.
The team is equipped to respond to any disaster, but according to task force member Josh Varner, their work tends to be focused heavily on responding to hurricanes.
“We have a variety of things we respond to; hurricanes, tornadoes, structural collapse,” Varner said. “With the Texas coast and the hurricanes coming up through the gulf, that’s a big part of what we do.”
After joining the team in 2008, Varner immediately went to work on the search-and-rescue efforts for hurricanes Ike and Omar. Varner is a hazmat specialist for TX-TF1 and said the team is comprised of all manners of rescue specialists, including K-9 units, medics and fire rescue.
With hurricane season approaching, helicopter search and rescue specialist Brian Winchell advises Aggies to exercise caution when driving during storm conditions.
“One common mistake that we see in general is people trying to drive through flooded roadways or an area they drive through normally that’s covered by water,” Winchell said. “I think what people fail to realize is that it doesn’t matter how big your vehicle is, six to 12 inches of moving water across a roadway is enough to float a vehicle and get it swept downstream.”
According to Winchell, following the National Weather Service’s advice of “turn around, don’t drown” is key to staying safe during a hurricane.
“The roadway may not be intact,” Winchell said. “If there’s water rushing across a roadway, we all assume ‘hey, I can make it across, there’s not that much water,’ but we’re assuming that the road bed is intact. All that water can carve parts of the roads away. So you go in and drop a tire off one side and all of a sudden you’re sitting on top of a floating vehicle, waiting for someone to pick you up.”
TX-TF1 is prepared to save lives during the upcoming hurricane season, but Varner explained there are things the citizens of College Station can do to prevent themselves from needing a rescue.
“We have a large student population that may have family that lives along the coast,” Varner said. “Make sure you know where they’re going, and that you have contact information and a plan. Make sure you know who’s going to be where, and make sure they know where you’re going to be during the event itself. Make sure that you’re proactive in getting provisions and fuel.”
Varner said he and the other members of TX-TF1 are proud to be able to help Texans through disaster.
“At the end of the day it’s about serving others; feeling fulfilled by making a difference in somebody’s life, making it a little bit easier, even if it’s just helping the local responders to get what they need,” Varner said.
For more hurricane safety tips and information on TX-TF1, visit texastaskforce1.org.

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