Team of military veterans conducting rescue operations in Texas

Team Rubicon dispatched three rescue boats from its National Operations Center in Dallas on Monday morning.

In the wake of Hurricane Harvey, a team of seasoned search and rescue veterans have stepped up to help those who are least able to help themselves- Team Rubicon

With over 15,000 volunteers and a team of around 2,000 personnel who are deployable within 72 hours of a disaster, Team Rubicon is a non-profit organization founded by US Marine veterans, whose mission of uniting the skills between military veterans and first responders allows for quick deployment in dire times.

Forming in 2010, Team Rubicon has deployed on well over 176 operations, including several international disasters. Split into ten regional units across the US, Team Rubicon can deploy members wherever a disaster strikes.

Popular Military’s Andy Wolf spoke with Region 9’s Deputy Field Operations Manager and Marine veteran David “Zoolander” Casler in an impromptu interview on Tuesday, regarding the status of Team Rubicon and what Hurricane Harvey operations might look like in Texas.

“Right now we’re mobilizing, getting our first-tier QRF (Quick Reaction Force) in there, who are trained for this kind of operation,” Casler said. “The rest will wait for the water to subside and when it is safe to go in, they will help with the cleanup based on socio-economics.”

“Socio-economics” is a big part of TR’s battle strategy. Targeting the areas of a disaster zone that are less well-off or unlikely to have insurance that covers the kind of disasters that strike.

“During Hurricane Sandy, we focused on an area where a lot of first responders lived,” Casler said. “Fire, Police, EMS. We helped them first in order to improve the morale of their families, which in turn would improve their own morale as they helped others.”

Relying on donations, grants and the generosity of others, Team Rubicon partners heavily with companies such as Home Depot, who provide both a base of operations and grants to purchase supplies.

“Home Depot is our biggest asset,” Casler noted. “They will let us run operations out of their lots and give us access to supplies we need. We pay for the equipment with grants and donations. We often set up barracks in VFW and American Legion posts, shower in local gyms and are fed by local restaurants, even if it is one good meal.”

“I’m proud to say, we’ve never really been short or shorthanded,” he chuckled.

Three Team Rubicon water rescue teams are currently on the ground in Houston providing support to residents affected by Hurricane Harvey, reports Dennis Clancey, a former U.S. Army infantry captain and Iraq veteran who joined Team Rubicon as a volunteer in 2014. As of noon on Tuesday, Team Rubicon volunteers have rescued at least 35 residents.

Our teams are working to orchestrate helicopter support to identify areas of Houston with stranded residents. Personnel on the ground are in coordination and being tracked by those at our National Operations Center (NOC) in Dallas, as it is our top priority to maintain the safety of our teams downrange,” stated Clancey. 

In addition to their elite volunteer force (who are trained in incident management and first responder skills), Rubicon has seen several generous donations, particularly since Harvey. Under Armour has donated $50,000 directly to TR, with other groups -Home Depot, FedEx, AT&T and Dow Chemical- donating a portion of large sums to the organization.

For Casler and crew, however, the mission is simple- provide assistance and rally those who no longer have the means -or even morale- to rebuild what nature has taken from them, especially things you cannot put a price tag on.

“Floods and fires are so damaging,” Casler said. “A person’s money goes into the bank. People’s family albums, heirlooms -their very history- are often lost in these disasters. There is a psychological damage that a person cannot put a price on.”

“In short,” he concluded, “We are here to help those who can no longer help themselves, in any way we can. That’s what it’s all about.”

The bulk of Team Rubicon’s work lies in the weeks and months ahead after the rescue operations are complete. Team Rubicon anticipates sending hundreds of trained volunteers to support the Houston-area communities for the massive clean-up.

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