FEMA sends 200 people, plus search dogs, to Ft. Gordon for Carolinas deploy


FORT GORDON, Ga. (WJBF) – Depending on how the storm impacts the South Carolina coast, FEMA personnel could respond to help people stuck in debris and high waters.

The boats are ready. There’s also a four wheeler and even a heavy duty fork lift able to pick up debris if hundreds of FEMA workers are deployed to storm ravaged areas.

NewsChannel 6 watched as a canine took off running.

And just like that, Jack was off to try and rescue someone trapped in debris left from Hurricane Dorian.

Jack and other search dogs look everywhere. They are able to sniff out places the human eyes and ears cannot.

And with a bark and a bell ring comes a discovery.

Had it been a real assignment, not a mock one, Jack would have just saved someone’s life. About six canines will join FEMA personnel from Nebraska, Massachusetts, Tennessee and other states for storm rescues in the Carolinas.

“If you’re so deep, they’re not going to hear you. They’re not going to hear you banging. They’re not going to hear you yelling out,” said K-9 Coordinator and Trainer for Tennessee Task Force 1, Deborah Burnett. “But the dog can find you very, very fast.”

It’s a waiting game, for now. Inside a cot filled gym at Fort Gordon, everyone readies themselves for the call.

“From Tennessee, we have representatives from about 13 fire departments,” said Tennessee Task Force 1 Leader, Kirk Lock. “Memphis Fire Department is the supporting agency.”

“We have boats,” said Jay Bourgeois, Logistics and Ground Support for Massachusetts Urban Search and Rescue Team. “We can help them with any sort of water rescues, any structural collapse, anything that may be outside their capability. We can help solve their problem.”

One thing we know for sure, all of the tools are at Fort Gordon and ready to go if people with FEMA are deployed. They do not know when they will leave or how long they will stay but, of course, they will be ready.

Photojournalist: Gary Hipps

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