Texas military forces help residents of the Rio Grande Valley recover after hurricane Dolly
Texas Military Forces by First Sgt. Lek Mateo, Standing Joint Interagency Task Force
RAYMONDVILLE, Texas (Jul. 25, 2008) — Residents of Rio Grande Valley are still feeling the effects of Hurricane Dolly after the second Atlantic hurricane of the 2008 season tore through south Texas Jul. 23 with damaging wind and torrential rain.
Remnants of the Category 2 hurricane could still be felt as severe flooding in several coastal cities displaced several hundred families whose homes were destroyed or made inaccessible.
Several thousand people were without electricity at the height of the storm due to downed power lines but utility companies from all over the state are working tirelessly to restore service.
Over 736 members of the Texas Military Forces comprising of the Texas Air National Guard, Army National Guard and Texas State Guard joined forces with local, state and federal emergency responders in a massive relief operation to help the traumatized and devastated communities recover.
The military effort under the command of the Standing Joint Interagency Task Force assisted the state’s Texas Task Force 1 with search and rescue. They also established and manned fourteen shelter sites that were distribution points for free packaged food, bottled water and ice available to anyone that needed assistance.
Task force commander, Col. John Nichols of the Texas Air National Guard’s 149th Fighter Wing in San Antonio, acknowledged that this is definitely a joint organization and that he is proud to lead all three components of the Texas Military Forces that are involved with this mission.
“This is truly Texans helping Texans and we are ready for this kind of contingency operation,” said Nichols.
Congressman Solomon P. Ortiz, who represents the district impacted by the storm, visited one of the point-of-distribution sites to see the relief effort first hand.
The Congressman stated that it was great to see the community come together to overcome this crisis and knows that everyone will rebound. This cooperative spirit he added represents the best of the Rio Grande Valley.
He also commended the countless volunteers, especially the servicemen and woman who came to assist the people of south Texas.
“I want to thank all the military members who were activated and removed from their jobs and their family to come and help,” said Solomon. “This shows their dedication and their loyalty to the state and the community and we appreciate that.”
Sgt. 1st Class Eliberto Cavazos of the Texas State Guard and a resident of Raymondville, Texas rode the storm out at the local high school with several members of his unit.
The retired city employee said that it was great to be able to work together as a team with his counterparts in the Army and Air National Guard and together show the community in which he lives in that the Texas military forces can do the job at hand.
“We’ve received a lot of thanks for coming here and helping from the people in my neighborhood and that they are truly very grateful. That makes me very proud to be able to serve in uniform,” Cavazos stated.
Sharon Stanton, who has been out of power for three days since Dolly struck, waited patiently for hours in her car until she reached the front of the line where several Guardsman and civilian volunteers quickly loaded her car with precious water and ice.
The resident of La Feria, Texas said that she knew that relief was on the way when she started seeing convoys of large green National Guard Humvees and trucks arriving in her town hours after Dolly struck.
“The National Guard pretty much has got it together and they know what they’re doing and that assures me that things are going to get better,” Stanton exclaimed.