Members of the Tri-County Swiftwater Rescue Team have been deployed to Nassau County in preparation for Hurricane Henri. Eight members of the team — which consists of agencies from Fulton, Montgomery and Schoharie counties — were sent to Long Island Sunday.
The Tri-County Swiftwater Rescue Team dispatched five swift water rescue technicians, along with three individuals to assist command staff. Those three volunteers will act “as the intermediary between our members and those in command” in Nassau County, according to Montgomery County Emergency Management Office Director Rick Sager.
Sent with the upstate team was an inflatable boat, along with a trailer containing swift water suits, personal flotation devices, ropes and carabiners. Three of the individuals traveling to Nassau County are members of the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office, which also provided a vehicle to pull the trailer.
Said Sager of tasks the Tri-County Swiftwater Rescue Team could potentially assist with in Nassau County, “We’re assuming that once the storm surge hits that area of Long Island, there’ll be a good possibility that they’ll have to put boats in the water and remove people from their residences.” Team members could also be utilized in removing individuals who’ve become trapped in vehicles.
Between 10 and 12 Tri-County Swiftwater Rescue Team members — including air boat operators — remained in the area in case of a high-water event Sunday, with Montgomery County Sheriff Jeffery T. Smith stating, “There’s plenty of certified people that remained in case we have a need locally.”
In a situation, for instance, wherein water rises so quickly that residents in a danger zone don’t have time to leave, the Tri-County Swiftwater Team will be deployed to assist with evacuation.
As of mid-afternoon, officials didn’t expect emergency flooding situations to arise locally, with Sager pointing out, “Based on the reports and the forecast that we’re seeing through the National Weather Service, we’re not expecting any high water to the point where we’ll have to do something.”
Sager said that while minor flood stage could be reached where the Schoharie Creek meets Montgomery County at Burtonsville, he pointed out, “that’s something we deal with on a regular basis.”
The local situation, he said, will continue to be monitored in real time, with the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office and Office of Emergency Management communicating with several entities — including The New York State Canal Corporation and New York Power Authority — regarding potential weather threats.
“If we think there’s going to be an issue, we send an alert through Hyper-Reach,” explained Smith of the emergency call system used to quickly notify Montgomery County residents.
Nassau County sent individuals to assist during flooding events in western Montgomery County — mostly in the Village of Fort Plain and Town of Minden — in 2006 and 2013, and countywide in 2011. Smith stated, “this county has been the recipient of mutual aid so many times,” that local first responders are happy to pay back the favor.
To become a certified swift water rescue technician, Tri-County Swiftwater Rescue Team members take specialized, intensive training provided by the New York State Office of Fire Prevention and Control. Additional training follows, wherein team members learn various techniques and skills, including how to operate a boat during a swift water rescue.