Sacramento Fire Swiftwater Rescue Crews Get Ready to Head to Houston

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SACRAMENTO -- Desperately waiting for rescue -- that's the fate Hurricane Harvey has handed thousands of people in and around Houston, Texas. And soon, the helping hand that pulls them to safety will be extended all the way from Sacramento.

"We have the motors stored for our (inflatable rescue boats), so we have two motors that are gonna go," said Engineer Andy Ramos with the Sacramento Fire Department. "We have gas down in the bottom, fuel to support the motors. Up top in these boxes here, we have all of the maintenance equipment. We have everything that we need to do to, uh, patch the boat if you need to. Yeah we can patch the boat."

All that, just some of the gear packed into a 16-foot trailer Tuesday as members of the Sacramento Fire Department prepared for a 48-hour road trip into the watery unknown.

"We can work through the dark. We can work 24/7 pretty much in any condition," said Battalion Chief Jim Edmiston with the Sacramento Fire Department.

The 14 men tapped for this state level boat team deployment are expertly trained in the kind of swift-water rescue that well-meaning neighbors and members of the so-called Cajun Navy have been trying to pull off since the Texas governor asked for the help of anyone who could give it.

Floodwaters are still rising in the wake of Harvey -- the heaviest tropical downpour in U.S. history.

For Edmiston, it's personal because he used to live in Texas

"I did live in Kingwood for a while, went to Kingwood High Schoo -- pretty interesting to see that on national news in the morning, literally under feet of water," Edmiston said.

The former Kingwood Mustang turned Sacramento battalion chief will soon be helping to heal a place that formed him into a professional helper.

Ordinarily, 18-year department veteran Patrick Costamagna would be heading out on this mission, but the captain is also the task force leader for a FEMA Urban Search and Rescue team that may be ordered to battle Harvey as well.

He's the only one here who's been sent into the aftermath of hurricanes before -- Hurricanes Gustav and Ike.

He's looked the intense need they leave behind right in the face.

"It's an emotional time anytime you're trying to help someone that's in need of rescue. You kind of put that aside as a professional. We build up these callouses to be able to help people and we kind of deal with that stuff later," Costamagna said.

"It's an overwhelming or tremendous sense that you're doing good. It's hard to leave your family behind, but you're leaving them behind knowing you're going to help another family," he said.

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