HELPING HANDS: New Jersey Task Force One deployed throughout Beaufort County

Published 5:59 pm Thursday, September 13, 2018

With Hurricane Florence now impacting the coast, emergency management officials and first responders in Beaufort County stand at the ready to respond to those in need throughout the area.

While these local responders may be familiar faces in the community, Beaufort County residents may also encounter a few visitors to our county as well — men and women wearing items of clothing that identify them as members of New Jersey Task Force One.

NJ-TF1 is a specialized urban search and rescue team operating under the auspices of the New Jersey Office of Emergency Management. Together with other teams throughout the United States, NJ-TF1 is part of the National Urban Search and Rescue System, which operates as a part of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

“If you think of disasters in the past like floods in Haiti or Puerto Rico, you always see on the national news these zoomed out pictures of a convoy of trucks and people,” Newkirk said. “That’s the caliber of team we have placed here in Beaufort County.”

An 85-member outfit, New Jersey Task Force One is equipped to provide a variety of services during a disaster. The group brings additional resources in terms of water rescue capabilities, search and rescue, K-9 components, medical resources and law enforcement.

“I always envision it like a Swiss Army knife,” Newkirk said. “It’s a very self-contained group. We’re housing them and we’ve already been working with them planning-wise to figure out how we can split that large team into smaller teams and position them around our county. As we anticipate challenges, we’ll have someone close by.”

While Beaufort County is the team’s most recent assignment, the task force has also been deployed in response to high-profile disasters such as the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center.