Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Hello Everybody:

The news is good, we will be leaving our camp and headed home at midnight tonight.

All are safe and well, and we have a new member of the team, his name is 'Stennis R Escue'. His a cuddley little fellow abandoned during the storm. Just another humanitarian things we are so good at.

The final searches are still being completed and we are in the process of breaking down the camp.

Miss you all and see you soon. I am sure that we will send out updates from the road home.

Rick Blais

Monday, September 26, 2005

our Demobilization is set for Thursday, However our team has been working extra long so we are planning to be on the road for thursday the 29th to arrive sometime friday afternoon/evening at the cache. I will try to get some photos up today..

Eric D.
Technical Information Specialist

Saturday, September 24, 2005


Good Morning All:

It is 01:15 am Misissippi time and all is the 'Q' word. Mike Z, Jason, Eric and myself are up with the late night command post watch. Teams are fixing outboard motors, Logs is rearranging the BoO. We are on constant water rescue alert for Hancock county and still giving one of the only true 'Heavy Rescue' resource to the county.

High tide is about 03:30am and we are expecting the lower county to again flood with the storm surge from 'Rita'. We are very safe here, buildings have been fortified with the guidance from our Structural Engineers. Winds have been below 40 mph and not expected to go above that point today as 'Rita' makes landfall near the Louisiana, Texas border. Seeing the utter devistation of an eye wall landfall first hand, I hope everyone in the path of that storm has gotten a long way away. Property can be replaced, lives can not.

They have a set of before and after satilite images in the main hallway of the EOC here and they tell quite a story. A once beautiful beach front community completely obliterated by an unimaginable storm surge. The high water marks are 18+ feet in some parts of the highway underpasses (miles inland). Some people have told us stories of survival and tragidy. Lives saved and of lives lost. How the water rose many inches in just minutes forcing residence that could not escape to try and get high enough in there homes to stay above the flood waters. That meant clinging to the rafters of attic spaces and being rescued only after holes were chopped in roofs by searchers in the first few hours after the storm.

I think the media did not give the residence of Hancock county, the place were the eye wall made landfall, the focus it deserved. I think a great deal of the story of Hancock County was lost to the flooding and other tragidies in New Orleans. That is not to say what happened in New Orleans was not as tragic. I remember the Governer of Mississippi holding a news conference on Fox News during the land fall of 'Katrina' and stating they had lost all contact with Hancock County, and were unable to get word in or out about damage or casualties. I can now see why.

We have lost cell service here, but we are all ok and working hard to complete our mission and come home soon. The large debris fields that are within the inland waterways and marshes must be searched before we are to complete our objectives. It is 02:45 am now and crews are winding down. High tide is less than an hour away. Hancock Fire Dispatch will soon be a buzz of activity and off the squads will go.

Send out more later in the week. And do not be strangers, it is nice to see comments on the blog. Thank you all who have written so far. Keep in touch, and we will return home soon.

Rick Blais
Comms Specialist

Friday, September 23, 2005

Squad Manager John Cagno wishes his son Little John a happy birthday Today from Mississippi. He say he loves you and hell see you soon.


Today we are focused on preparing for post hurricane rita missions. As well as serving as the heavy rescue / rescue team for the area. this morning started at 3 am with water rescue missions along the coast due to rising water levels down there. we still believe the storm is clear of us and we can handle whatever small pieces of it we recieve. Our intellegence shows we have a high porbability of safety. We will begin our debris searches as soon as this storm passes.

Thursday, September 22, 2005


Please do not fear about hurricane rita. We have a good pland and have moved forward with it securing our assets and our members. I must reinforce that the team will be safe and will not let ourselves be in the path of rits. We are all ready for what we have to do. we will keep you all posted.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Sorry for the Andy Who comment, I only meant to bust Okielistics, and give everybody a little laugh. There is no replaceing you Andy Z. See ya'll when we get back.

Rick Blais

To the families and friends of RIUSAR

I wanted to update everyone on the tremendous job your loved ones and friends are doing down here. Everyone is in good spirits and is doing well. I wish all of you could see the hard work your loved-ones and friends are doing first hand. You would be as proud of them as I am. The Rhode Island USAR Task Force has truly distinguished itself.

The folks down here in Mississippi have been devastated - a fact that appears to have gone largely unnoticed by the world. Here is a photo of a typical street our search area There are over 200 streets that look the same as this photo, and the remainder of the streets are only marginally better. On the parts of these streets closest to the ocean there is absolutely nothing left. This photos shows the devastation, but also shows the ability of the folks in Mississippi to find some humor in their tragedy.

I want all of you to know that the safety and well-being of our personnel is foremost in my mind. We are about at the half-way point of the deployment and I know everyone is looking forward to being home with a new-found appreciation for everything we took for granted before we left.

We'll be home soon.

Curt Varone
Task Force Leader

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Another Hot day. Many searches and many advances, yes we are tracking the hurricane. However the data seems to show we will miss the storm. No Worries.Tomorrow we will tackle a major part of the search operation here. The Team will be searching a large area or marsh and swamp where debris have collected. It will be difficult terrain to work on but well figure it out. The talent of our men, woman, and dog will find a way to make it happen...and make it happen safetly. Well talk to you all tomorrow

It is high noon in the Base camp, all is well. The squads are out on missions and probably will be very busy. We are getting more reliable intel on locations to be searched. We have been battling the heat and humidty. Temps of 95+ with heat indexes in the 110 - 115 (That is Mississippi feel like, trust me it is 120+ in Rhode island feels like temps.).
Our new logistics manager is unbelievable. There is nothing we need to want for. All we can say is Andy Who???

Computer is over heating so I must sign off for now, Post next time I get a few moments.

Rick Blais
Comms Spec ialist.

Monday the 19th of September,From Waveland,MS. The team is making great progress in our mission here. Today we have been able to Search great deal of area. The Emergency Operations Center has Deployed members of the TN-TF2 from Tennesee team to work along with our Rhode Island Team. Everyone is well, the some of the dogs will recieve a day off tomorrow inreward for thier hardwork the past couple of days.The weather is HOT!!! Today the heat index was around 114 degrees and the same is expected for tomorrow. Our medical and safety members are making sure all of our members are safe.Thank you for your support...Sincerly, RI-TF1