Former FEMA Chief Brown clears up confusion on Colorado Harvey response teams to Texas

Posted at 4:44 PM, Aug 28, 2017
and last updated 2017-08-28 21:50:07-04

DENVER – Rescue teams from all over the country are making their way to Texas to help in any way they can. But some agencies in Colorado want to help, but have to wait.

Even one local rescue team on the way to Texas was turned around.

Former FEMA Chief Michael Brown, who oversaw the hurricane Katrina disaster, said while the eagerness from local response teams to help in Texas is admirable, there is a reason why these teams can’t go when they want to.

“Things are very hectic in Texas,” Brown said. “That’s why we call these things disasters.”

Brown said the storm is still ongoing and unfolding, so patience and federal coordination is key.

“Crews that are sent there have to be able to get to where they’re needed,” Brown said. “So if interstates are flooded, if bridges are washed out, then they have to figure out ways to get there. So, the governor, the state of local emergency managers and the director of FEMA are being very meticulous about ‘okay, now it’s time to ask for this task force, or this group to go here.’”

Agencies in Colorado have been sent to help out those in Texas.

According to a spokesperson for FEMA in Colorado, FEMA has sent out around 65 people to Texas for water rescues.

According to the Red Cross for the Colorado and Wyoming region, more than 30 people have been sent to Texas.

However, according to the Colorado Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, no Emergency Management Assistant Compact units have not been sent yet.

However, Emergency Management has responded to a request for swift water rescues from Texas with a crew made up of 14 people from across the state. But Texas has not given the greenlight to deploy those crews.

Longmont Emergency Unit is part of that crew, and was told it would need to stand down until further notice.

According to Emergency Management, one if its crews had to come back to Colorado because they left without ever being given the green light.

“This is a great story about the American spirit,” Brown said. “Everyone wants to help. These firefighters want to help. I would say to the fire fighters in Colorado that they know you want to help, but you have to wait for the call.”
Brown said these crews can still be called at any moment to help in the response phase of the storm, and may even be called to help during the recovery phase when they start cleanup.