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Local First Responders Head To Texas To Help With Tropical Storm Harvey Rescues

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) -- New York City has sent 120 emergency personnel to Texas to assist in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced early Sunday.

The FDNY Incident Management Team and the Urban Search and Rescue Rapid Response Team are going to Texas to assist authorities on the ground, de Blasio reported.

"We are set up for all types of rescues, including swiftwater rescues. We have a compilation of tools that include boats, motors, dry suits, rescue equipment for collapsed structures, rope equipment for confined spaces, and a large compilation of Haz-Mat equipment and tools. We're also supplied with a large, self-sufficient cache of food and supplies that make us sustainable for up to 72 hours in a row. I believe we're ready to face any danger," FDNY Battalion Chief Jack Flatley, Task Force Leader of New York City's elite Urban Search and Rescue Team, said in a news release.

The task force prepared to head down to the Lone Star state at the crack of dawn Sunday in Brooklyn. The team consists of FDNY and NYPD members specially trained to respond to catastrophic events.

CBS2's Ali Bauman reports they'll be joined by the Red Cross Disaster Response team, made up of active and retired FDNY firefighters who respond in times of need.

"When something like this happens it's all hands on deck for the Red Cross and we have volunteers from our region... who have stepped up," Red Cross member Michael Devulpillieres said.

The volunteers will assist with bulk distribution and damage assessment, and could be deployed in Texas for up to three weeks.

The mayor noted that numerous cities helped New York after Superstorm Sandy in 2012, and, "We'll do all we can to help those affected by this storm."

The New York Air National Guard is also heading to Texas and Louisiana to bring aircraft, vessels and manpower.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Saturday he deployed the emergency personnel to aid the recovery effort.

Rescue teams, maintenance and support staff from the 106th Rescue Wing of the New York Air National Guard is responding, along with three rescue helicopters, a rescue plane and several boats and watercraft.

The American Red Cross Greater New York also sent a team of mostly retired FDNY firefighters. Red Cross coordinator Joanne Galardy told them their mission, 1010 WINS' Carol D'Auria reported.

"They're going to send you with a bunch of stuff. You're going to go out into these hard-hit communities and deliver much-needed supplies," she said.

Among the retired firefighters headed out for relief efforts was Richard Marucheau.

"We go to help others that helped us during 9/11, and to keep the memory of our fallen brothers alive," he said.

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Rich Stewart has been part of the team for 20 years.

"We go up and down the streets and hand out any kind of supplies that they need -- cleaning supplies, gloves, shovels, rakes, bleach," Stewart said.

Fellow member Steve Cascarelli told WCBS 880's Kelly Waldron it will be tough getting to Texas. Two flights have already been canceled going into Houston and they were looking for a third Sunday.

Kristine Johnson reported for CBS News that the National Hurricane Center southern Texas was experiencing "catastrophic flooding" from Hurricane Harvey Sunday morning. Up to 19 inches of rain fell in Houston between 1 a.m. and 7 a.m. local time.

Storm surges of up to 12 feet are also anticipated.

As of Sunday morning, Harvey was a tropical storm with maximum sustained winds of 45 mph. The storm made landfall late Friday as a powerful Category 4 hurricane.

At least two people were dead and up to 14 injured as a result of the hurricane Sunday morning. A total of 250,000 homes remained without power early Sunday, and six counties had been declared federal disaster areas.

The Red Cross encourages anyone interested in volunteering to register through their website.

(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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