Texas Task Force 2 takes over Blanco River search

San Marcos mayor helping volunteers stock supplies for storm victims (Alicia Inns/KXAN)

WIMBERLEY, Texas (KXAN) — Part of the search is transitioning in Hays County. Texas Task Force 2, a group out of North Texas, will now head there to take over parts of the search efforts, handed over from Texas Task Force 1.

Texas Task Force 1 is preparing to leave, and the other group will be brought in. Texas Task Force 1, a special unit of 600 with canine and helicopter assistance, had been working nonstop to find those missing after the weekends storms. Sixty of those task force searchers were scouring a 25-mile stretch of the Blanco River, breaking off into smaller sectors as they work through the river banks and debris.

Meanwhile, the overnight weather posed a risk for search teams. The Blanco River rushed at about 7.8 feet early Friday morning following overnight rains – which were accompanied by gusty winds. The river is expected to crest Friday at 11.6 feet; flood stage is 13 feet. Still, no homes are threatened.

Texas Task Force 1 worked only during the daylight hours, and if — or when — the weather starts to turn, it puts their crew in danger. Thus, a smart decision has to be made: They can’t work in lightning and thunderstorms, and they have to think about not only their safety but the safety of their canine companions. One of the dogs got hurt in the debris Thursday.

“We took a tumble,” said Will Welch, with Texas Task Force 1. “We don’t know exactly what’s wrong yet. We’ll figure that out with X-rays in the next day or so. It’s tough terrain out there, and it’s tough to move around sometimes. He is the only dog on injured reserve so far. The others are holding up good.”

The handlers are very protective of the dogs, even experimenting now with special booties on a few of them to protect their paws from jagged debris. We’re told they may be the best bet at finding anyone out there because of their ability to pick up scents and squeeze into tight spaces.

However, with the weather like Friday’s, crews don’t want to risk it.

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