Cash-strapped search-and-rescue team needs more funding

AUSTIN (KXAN) — A line of trailers in Sunset Valley have been getting a lot of use lately.

They belong to Texas Search and Rescue. TEXSAR says they are averaging a call a week, but it is putting a strain on their resources.

Official agencies call on TEXSAR for help with search and rescue, floods and disaster relief.

The specially trained team helped with evacuations during flooding in Sunset Valley last fall. In May, TEXSAR took part in the search for a little girl, swept away by floodwaters in Caldwell County. This week, they helped locate a missing man in southeast Travis County.

“We have a pilot who donates his time and his helicopter, which as you know can be very expensive to fly,” said Brandon Goering, TEXSAR planning section chief. “And that’s what made the difference in that search.”

Goering, a computer programmer, started volunteering with TEXSAR after Hurricane Katrina in 2005. He calls it his second full-time job.

“This is all volunteer, 100 percent volunteer,” he said. “Volunteer time, money, everything…We’re an asset that’s ready to roll at a moment’s notice at no cost to the agency calling us out.”

Each call, however, does come with a steep price tag at around $2,000 per deployment. The team supplies much of their own gear but they rely on donations to cover things like fuel, medical supplies and equipment. TEXSAR says they would survive on a $50,000 budget but hope to double that as they could use more boats, ATVs and trailers.

All of the resources go toward work Goering says is vital.

“This is something I take great pride in,” he said. “Bringing someone home to their family is a feeling that’s indescribable.”

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