After Hurricane Isaac left many stranded in their flooded homes in Slidell, La., the Rapid Response Team from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) New Orleans was called in to navigate high-waters that the city’s ambulances, fire engines and police cars were unable to navigate.
“The sheer volume of medical assistance calls and calls involving high-water evacuations throughout the city and parish were mounting,” said William Black, HSI New Orleans supervisory special agent and Rapid Response Team mission coordinator. “The only way to reach many of the residences was with a high-water vehicle.”
ICE’s Rapid Response Team’s mission is to deploy in emergency situations and disasters when federal, state or local agencies need ICE’s help.
To reach Hurricane Isaac’s victims, the Rapid Response Team used a Mine Resistant Ambush Protected Vehicle that weighs 30,000 pounds and is approximately nine feet tall, ICE said. Twelve individuals were rescued from their flooded homes before the team called off the day’s rescue operations following a day of heavy rainfall and storm surge. The next day, the team rescued two additional stranded individuals.
“The team members are professional special agents who volunteer to be a part of the Rapid Response Team,” Black said. “When it’s time to act, we act without hesitation.”