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Helicopters, rescue boats in Cass today

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Helicopters and air rescue boats should be arriving in Cass County today, along with helping hands from a variety of federal agencies ready to aid in the region's flood fight.

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Cass County activated its emergency response team early Tuesday, which means the county's deputies are taken off their regular assignments and pooled together to assist in flood-fighting efforts in the region.

The deputies are divided into three teams that take staggered shifts so they can respond 24/7.

Although recently the tactical team has been activated for flood-related emergencies, it could be used "for any major event that we need people fast," Sheriff Paul Laney said.

As members of the U.S. Coast Guard, Customs and Border Protection and the Fish & Wildlife Service begin arriving in Fargo to help fight flooding, they'll join deputies in comprising the emergency response team, Laney said.

Also slated to arrive today is more equipment that provides emergency responders with both air and water access to situations.

"We could not be successful at our flood fight if we didn't have the assets that are made available to us by these other agencies," said Cass County Administrator Bonnie Johnson.

The agencies provide resources the county wouldn't be able to provide or maintain by itself, she said.

"Last year, especially, when the crest was in the 40-foot level and we were needing to evacuate people, they provided Cass County with the means to do that," Johnson said. "Whether we'll see that need in this flood, we don't exactly know yet, but as things grow closer to the weekend, we may have some of those issues in rural Cass County."

The rescue boats could be in the water within the next couple of days as local rivers rise higher, Laney said.

Cass County's emergency response team also might provide flood assistance to Richland, LaMoure and Barnes counties in southeastern North Dakota.

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