It’s not even winter and Buffalo is car-top deep in snow – more snow in a week than the area gets in a normal winter. Volunteers are using snowmobiles to rescue stranded motorists and neighbors are helping each other in this extreme time of need.
The members of ICE’s Buffalo Special Response Team (SRT) are no strangers to dealing with adverse situations, training to protect our country and ensuring public safety, but they’re the first to admit, tackling the extreme snow here is a challenge — a challenge so demanding, the Buffalo ICE Field Office Director Michael Phillips authorized deployment Nov. 20 of the SRT to assist the Erie County Emergency Command Center in humanitarian relief efforts in the aftermath of the monster storm.
“This has been a major impact storm, but our SRT members have come through in stellar fashion to help in many ways,” said FOD Phillips. “Our team lives and works in the Buffalo area and takes our community responsibilities very seriously. We’re always here to help.”
Their daily responsibilities are by nature tough work. But they didn’t have to look far this time for a new challenge. Right outside the front door, in fact. The SRT quickly coordinated the participation of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Special Response Team (CBP/SRT) and two Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) special agents in a unified response to the relief efforts.
Highly proficient in weapons use and tactical situations, they regularly conduct operations to execute high-risk enforcement actions as well as coordinating the escorts of subjects deemed to be a significant threat to public safety or national security. And when they’re not helping the community where they live, each member trains in specialized tactics two times a month.
Armed this time with snow shovels and rescue equipment, the team of nine fired up their SUVs, snowmobiles and rescue sleds and got quickly engaged providing humanitarian relief to those affected.
In Buffalo during the winter, which began in mid-November this year, they know it’s not over until it’s over. The SRT, along with their DHS partners, assigned to the Lackawanna Fire Department are assisting with response to 911 calls, the transportation of dialysis patients and delivering much needed medication to civilians at their residences. The SRT is still deeply engaged in relief efforts and intends to continue until the effort is completed. In Buffalo, stay tuned because it’s not even winter for another month.