Editor's Note: Dranesville Supervisor John Foust is sending along updates from the Fairfax County Urban Search and Rescue Team which is now setting operations to help rescue survivors of the earthquake and tsunami that have broken parts of the northern end of the island nation. This has not been edited.
VATF-1 departed Misawa Air Base in Northern Japan at 9:15 P.M. EDT on Sunday, March 13th. The team was stationed at Misawa Air Base with the U.K. Heavy Team as well as the Australian Heavy Team. The teams' cache of equipment was currently with them.
VATF-1 departed Misawa Air Base for the town of Ofunato, Japan (Iwate Prefecture) which is 120 miles south of Misawa. Ofunato is a seaport town which is 125 square miles in size and is 6 hours south (driving time) of Misawa with an approximate population of 41,000. VATF-1 will be traveling with Los Angeles, CATF-2 and the mode of travel will be a combination of ground, and helicopter for the team members and the cache.
The team arrived at Sumita, Japan at 6:00 A.M. EDT on Monday, March 14th. It is here in Sumita, where the team will be setting up its Base of Operations (BOO). Being this was night time in Japan, the team was bedded down to rest for the upcoming daytime operations. At 5:15 P.M. EDT on Monday, March 14th, one-half of the team initiated recon operations in the town of Ofunato, and at 7:00 P.M. EDT the set-up of the BOO was completed and the remaining team members joined the others in search and rescue efforts. Currently the three Heavy Teams are conducting a grid search of the mission area. Damage is described as severe with large amounts of rubble similar to a hurricane.
Communication within Japan is still limited with our communications with the team limited to satellite phones and some email. The Task Force leaders are working with the local fire service and continuing to formulate their search and rescue plans.
The team is continuing to monitor the surrounding conditions in Japan and are reporting no increase in radiation levels at their location. The team members reported some aftershocks with no damage or issues and they remain well rested and in good spirits.
Keith Johnson, Deputy Chief Keith H. Johnson, Fairfax County Fire & Rescue Department.
See of the team in Japan.