Lufkin, TX -- Within hours of the breakup of the Columbia Shuttle, local, state, federal and civilian agencies mobilized for what may be one of the largest federal-civilian interagency recovery efforts to date. More than 90 agencies have participated in search and recovery operations-from private groups, contractors, city, county, state law enforcement and emergency response organizations to federal resources managed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
According to Scott Wells, federal coordinating officer, the effort to recover debris from the Columbia Shuttle for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) investigation into the cause of the breakup has been tremendous. "Coordinating a search of this magnitude takes a great deal of commitment on the part of all involved. The fact that so many agencies have worked so well together is a testament to the importance of this mission," said Wells.
Allen Flynt, NASA oversight manager at the Disaster Field Office, Lufkin, says NASA is grateful for the tremendous response from all of the organizations. "This spirit of cooperation has no doubt sped up the process of recovering shuttle material. It will have a great effect on our efforts to determine the cause of the shuttle crash, and our goal of getting the space shuttles flying again."
The following is a list of some of the lead agencies involved:
- FEMA - coordinates and directs federal agencies involved in the operations.
- NASA - manages overall search operations and provides information and technical assistance to those conducting the search and recovery.
- Environmental Protection Agency - responsible for identifying and handling hazardous materials; collects and transports materials recovered by search crews and others.
- Texas Forest Service - Coordinates ground and air searches.
- U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Indian Affairs, and the National Park Service - provide the majority of highly trained air and ground search crews and equipment.
- U.S. Navy, U.S. Coast Guard and regional dive teams - manage and participate in the various water searches.
Participating Federal Entities:
Defense Coordinating Element, Defense Criminal Investigation Service, Department of Defense, Department of Health and Human Resources, Department of the Interior, Department of Transportation, Environmental Protection Agency, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Federal Emergency Management Agency, General Services Administration, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, National Imagery and Mapping Agency, National Transportation Safety Board, National Weather Service, Naval Research Laboratory, Office of Personnel Management, U.S. Air Force, U.S. Army, U.S. Army, Corp of Engineers, U.S. Attorney's Office, U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Fire Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife, U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Marshal Service, National Park Service, U.S. Navy, Urban Search and Rescue, and others.
Participating State Entities:
Arkansas National Guard, Colorado Forest Service, Florida Division of Forestry, Louisiana Dept of Wildlife and Fisheries, Louisiana National Guard, Louisiana Office of Emergency Preparedness, Louisiana State Police, Maryland Task Force 1, New Mexico National Guard, North Carolina Forest Service, Oklahoma National Guard, Stephen F. Austin University, Texas Department of Mental Health Mental Retardation, Texas Army National Guard, Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, Texas Division of Emergency Management, Texas ...