Hurricane Harvey Relief

TX, UNITED STATES

09.03.2017

Video by Staff Sgt. Rion Ehrman

Air Force Public Affairs Agency

 

U.S. Army National Guard Soldiers assigned to the 551st Multi-Role Bridge Company, El Campo, Texas, search flooded Beaumont, Texas neighborhoods, Sept. 3, 2017, for civilians after Hurricane Harvey. Hurricane Harvey formed in the Gulf of Mexico and made landfall in southeastern Texas, bringing record flooding and destruction to the region. U.S. military assets supported FEMA as well as state and local authorities in rescue and relief efforts. (U.S. Air Force video by SSgt Rion Ehrman)

Citizen Soldiers support and supply in Hurricane Harvey effort

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Photo By Sgt. Jazmin Jenkins | Soldiers from the 36th Combat Aviation Brigade unload pallets of water from a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) semi-truck at Houston Exective Airport in Katy, Texas to be distributed to Hurricane Harvey victims Sept. 3, 2017. The Department of Defense is conducting Defense Support of Civil Authorities operations in response to the effects of Hurricane Harvey. DSCA operations are part of the DOD's response capability to assist civilian responders in saving lives, relieving human suffering and mitigating property damage in response to a catastrophic disaster. (U.S. Army photo by: Sgt. Jazmin Jenkins / 22nd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment)

KATY, TX, UNITED STATES

09.03.2017

Story by Sgt. Jazmin Jenkins

22nd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

 

KATY, Texas - Six forklifts manned by Texas Army National Guardsmen line up outside of a hangar at a small airport just outside of Houston awaiting the next semi-truck filled with supplies to offload. Although most of the forklift operators are not logisticians by trade, they are combining skills earned working for the military and in the civilian sector to accomplish the mission. 

First Lieutenant Tim Dubose, an intelligence officer with 36th Combat Aviation Brigade, volunteered to manage a shipping and receiving site for distributing supplies based on his 10-years of civilian experience as a project manager. 

The mission of Dubose’s Austin-based unit is to support Texas Army National Guard disaster recovery operations by getting Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) supplies to distribution points using helicopters.

Dubose said that no mission within the specialty for which the military trained him existed for hurricane relief operations. However, the leadership skills taught to all Army officers, paired with his civilian credentials, made his selection for a leadership position at a logistics hub in the recovery efforts a natural one.

"I was selected to be in an (officer in charge) position,” said Dubose. “When I arrived at Houston Executive Airport, there was a need for logistical problem set." 

He used the project management skills required in his civilian job experience to synergize a team of Soldiers sent from around the United States to efficiently deliver supplies at the FEMA distribution site established at the airport. 

One of the people working for Dubose is Pfc. Matthew Riffe, a generator mechanic with 36th CAB, based out of Austin, Texas. Like Dubose, the 22-year old is using a combination of skills learned in the military and in his civilian job to ensure mission success. Riffe works in logistics shipping and receiving coordinator in his civilian occupation and has six years of forklift experience. 

"I volunteered to man the forklift because they were short-handed and I have the experience and skillset to contribute to the mission," said Riffe.

FEMA brings life sustaining supplies to be distributed by the military to the Houston Executive Airport for Hurricane Harvey victims. Soldiers with 36th CAB off-load and inventory those supplies. Afterwards the supplies are palletized and organized to fit inside the dimensions of a CH-47 Chinook helicopter. 

Dubose said one of the most important skills he’s using from his civilian job is proper communication between teammates and managing resources effectively. Additionally, his experience in acquisitions aligns with the mission at the distribution site. 

"Flight operations identifies specific supplies to go on the necessary aircraft by customer demand," said Dubose. "We fill that order by loading the supplies in the aircraft, then make sure we track and inventory afterwards." 

The FEMA distribution site at Houston Executive Airport is one of the major hubs re-supplying areas affected by Hurricane Harvey. The site has delivered an average of 25 tons of supplies per day since operations began on Aug. 31. 

Thousands of people along the U.S. Gulf Coast were affected by Hurricane Harvey. The efforts to relieve those in need involves Soldiers and necessary skills to accomplish the mission.

“This is an important mission to be a part of,” said Dubose. “We have all come together and used all of our skills to get the job done."

B-Roll Texas Military Forces POD Victoria TX 170903

VICTORIA, TX, UNITED STATES

09.02.2017

Video by Sgt. Daisy Broker

72nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team (36th ID, TXARNG)

 

Service members with the Texas Army National Guard and State Guard along side volunteers from neighboring cities hand out meals, ice, and water to victims of Hurricane Harvey’s destruction in Victoria, TX. 

Although the Cities water and sewer systems are working, the water is not potable per the
Texas Commission of Environmental Quality or TCEQ as of September 5th, 2017. The TECQ is the deciding authority that determines whether or not Texas’s water is okay to drink.

President Donald Trump visits Ellington Field

HOUSTON, TX, UNITED STATES

09.02.2017

Video by Senior Airman Renee Crugnale

147th Attack Wing (Texas Air National Guard)

 

General Joseph Lengyel, the Chief of the National Guard Bureau, arrived at Ellington Field Joint Reserve Base today. The General talked with base leadership then departed in a Blackhawk to assess flood affected areas of Texas.

POTUS Arrives, Departs Ellington Field

HOUSTON, TX, UNITED STATES

09.02.2017

Video by Tech. Sgt. Mindy Bloem

147th Attack Wing (Texas Air National Guard)

 

President Donald Trump arrives on Air Force One to Ellington Field Joint Reserve Base in Houston Sept. 2, 2017. Following his departure, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz took time to thank military members for their recovery efforts following the devastation caused by Harvey.

Clean water for Texas

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Photo By Capt. Martha Nigrelle | Texas Army National Guard, Capt. Amber Luecke, 71st enhanced Military Intelligence Brigade, mans the ice point at a the Point of Distribution (POD) where locals received clean water, ice and food in Victoria, Texas, Sept. 2, 2017. Texas Guardsmen set up numerous PODs in areas like Victoria, to ensure residents maintained access to clean water, as they worked to recover from the effects of the hurricane. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Capt. Martha Nigrelle)

VICTORIA, TX, UNITED STATES

09.02.2017

Story by Capt. Martha Nigrelle

Texas Military Department

 

VICTORIA, Texas – Soldiers from the Texas Army National Guard and the Texas State Guard handed out cases of bottled water, bags of ice and bags of food to locals still suffering the effects of Hurricane Harvey, in Victoria, Texas, Sept. 2, 2017.

One week after Harvey passed directly over Victoria, the town was still without clean drinking water.

As the rain finally subsided, and the Texas sun returned, temperatures raised into the 90’s. Thankfully, in Victoria, workers were able to restore the electricity, but potable water still wasn’t there.

“I came here to help people,” said a seven-year old volunteer who said she traveled with her parents from out of town to lend a hand to neighbors in need.

A large team of volunteers helped Guardsmen pass out the water, ice and food as Victoria residents drove through their Point of Distribution, located at the town’s community center. 

Despite the high temperature, and the glaring Texas sun, both Guardsmen and volunteers appeared to remain in high spirits, smiling at every person coming through their POD and making sure each family had the water, ice and food they needed.

Many of the families coming through the POD appeared to also be in high spirits, as bright smiles were passed to volunteers and soldiers with messages of gratitude.

“Thank you, thank you for what you are doing,” said one man. “God Bless you for being here.”

The POD had a simple and efficient set up. Soldiers were stationed at the community center’s parking lot entrance and exit to direct vehicles to the line. 

Upon approaching the POD, the line split in two. On either side, residents were greeted with a smile, by a soldier who explained to them how the operation worked.

Next step, the food stop. Here, residents may be greeted with not only a smile, but the adorable face of one of the younger volunteers as they received however many rations needed.

Moving onto the ice station, a Guardsman would inquire as to how many bags of ice, before signaling the ice team. As the car approached the ice station, soldiers and volunteers would be ready with the amount needed and load them into their vehicle.

Same process for the water.

Last, upon leaving, another smile and a goodbye. 

The operation had both military efficiency and a true Texas spirit.

“We’ve served more than 1,000 families in just three hours today,” said Texas National Guard Capt. Amber Luecke, 71st Enhanced Military Intelligence Brigade.

This group of Guardsmen and volunteers appeared to make every effort possible to make a difficult situation easier for their customers. While they worked on the black pavement in the heat of a late Texas summer, they ensured their customers stayed inside air-conditioned vehicles, with soldiers and volunteers doing any picking up, delivering and loading needed.

“We are here to help our communities,” said Brig. Gen. Patrick M. Hamilton, Commander of the Dual Status Command for Hurricane Harvey recovery efforts. “Helping our neighbors when they need us most is the heart of the Guard, and why we choose to become citizen-soldiers and airmen.”

This same sentiment appeared to be with the soldiers at the Victoria Community Center POD.

“Texas needed help, so we came out here,” said Luecke.

Texas Guardsmen are conducting stability operations throughout south Texas in many of the areas affected by the hurricane, running numerous PODs, shelters and supporting the rebuilding process.

1-143 Infantry Regiment, Airborne Battalion, Assist with Medical, Rescue and Recovery Operations

ORANGE, TX, UNITED STATES

09.02.2017

Video by Spc. Austin Boucher

55th Combat Camera

 

Soldiers of the 1-143 Infantry Regiment, Airborne Battalion, assist with rescue and recovery operations in Orange, Texas, Sept. 3, 2017. Both the U.S. Military and civilian volunteers are working together to assist those affected by Hurricane Harvey. (U.S. Army video by Spc. Austin T. Boucher)

Local Community’s Generosity and Compassion for our deployed Guardsmen

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Texas National Guard and Texas State Guard Service Members pick up shampoo, soap, and other sundries donated to them by the people of Katy, Texas.  Residents of Katy wanted to show their appreciation to the guardsmen who were being deployed to assist the thousands of Texans impacted by Hurricane Harvey.  (Texas State Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Greg Illich)

Commentary by: Staff Sgt. Gregory Illich, Texas State Guard Public Affairs

 

KATY, Texas - When townspeople learned that thousands of service men and women were passing through Katy and using Katy High School as a staging area before deploying to areas flooded by Hurricane Harvey, local people began showing up to help any way they could.

Individuals drove up with hastily collected supplies of water, Gatorade, toiletries, snacks and other sundries.  Local restaurants brought hot food to serve to the troops, including breakfast kolaches, barbecue, gumbo, shrimp Alfredo, chicken breasts and hamburgers. It was amazing!

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Texas National Guard and Texas State Guard Service Members pick up shampoo, soap, and other sundries donated to them by the people of Katy, Texas.  Residents of Katy wanted to show their appreciation to the guardsmen who were being deployed to assist the thousands of Texans impacted by Hurricane Harvey.  (Texas State Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Greg Illich)

Within days, a constant stream of cars pulling up to the school entry had delivered a significant amount of supplies into the school lobby. Like so many other Texans, everyone was pulling together to help their families, friends and complete strangers. Some of these generous people were helping others even though they too had property flooded and destroyed by the storm. Their charity and generosity was truly humbling. Word quickly spread that some Soldiers were sleeping on the floors in the hallways of the school. Scores of pillows, blankets, air mattresses and air pumps appeared in a few hours. The extra comfort for the service members was much appreciated.

Dozens of volunteers even arrived to help distribute and organize the donation efforts.  They also compiled lists of the specific needs of the service members staged there.  Many deployed units were at the high school only for a short time before moving out to their next assignment. As troops cycled through, these strangers replenished their supplies from the donations that kept coming in.

During a break, two Texas State Guardsmen went to a barbershop to get a trim as their hair had grown out during deployment.  While they waited, another customer paid for both of them to have haircuts without them knowing.  She approached the two Service Members, shook their hands and thanked them for the work we were doing.  

Later, some other Texas State Guardsmen joined a Texas National Guardsman for dinner at one of the nearby restaurants that had recently re-opened.  A grateful customer paid for our meal.  He introduced himself and shared that his house had flooded with three or four inches of water.  Despite his loss, he extended his generosity to them in appreciation of their efforts and those of other guardsmen who were helping his flood-stricken neighborhood.

I was one of those Texas State Guardsman working in the field. To say the least, I was humbled by the compassion and generosity that strangers extended to us while many of them, themselves, and their neighbors were in such need. This is the spirit of Texas and Texans helping Texans indeed and for this I am proud.

Hurricane Harvey

ORANGE, TX, UNITED STATES

09.02.2017

Video by Spc. Liem Huynh

22nd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

 

Volunteers and Texas National Guardsmen with the 133rd Field Artillery Regiment provide supports as a part of emergency relief efforts to help the victims of Hurricane Harvey in Orange, Texas, Sept. 2, 2017. The Department of Defense is conducting Defense Support of Civil Authorities operations in response to the effects of Hurricane Harvey. DSCA operations are part of the DOD's response capability to assist civilian responders in saving lives, relieving human suffering and mitigating property damage in response to a catastrophic disaster. (U.S. Army video by Spc. Liem Huynh/ 22nd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment)

Hybrid team rescues handicapped man from Hurricane Harvey flooding with water, ground and air assets

 

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Photo By Capt. Martha Nigrelle | Texas National Guard soldiers, service members from the U.S. Coast Guard and Texas Task Force 1 and Austin-Travis County Emergency Medical Service swift water rescue technicians work together to rescue a man with special medical needs from high-rising waters and medically evacuate him to a safe location, in Orange, Texas, August 30, 2017. Thousands of first responders from the military and local, state and federal agencies joined together to render aid to all those endangered by the high-rising floodwaters in south Texas following Hurricane Harvey. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Capt. Martha Nigrelle)

Story by Capt. Martha Nigrelle

09.02.17

ORANGE, Texas – A team of National Guardsmen, Coast Guardsmen, swift-water rescue technicians and volunteers worked together to rescue and air-lift a patient needing special medical attention, from severe flooding to a safe, medical facility, in Orange, Texas, August 30, 2017.

Service members from the Texas National Guard and a swift-water rescue team from Texas Task Force 1 and the Austin-Travis County Emergency Medical Service arrived in a severely flooded neighborhood looking to help anyone in need, when due to special circumstances they ended up flagging down a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter and medically evacuating a patient, rescuing him from danger and potentially saving his life.

“When we first got the call the information we were given was that there was a request to evacuate two elderly individuals, one of whom was paralyzed,” said Roger Patterson, Texas Task Force 1 squad leader. “Our Texas National Guard team assisted us with their high-profile vehicles to get us as close to the house as possible.”

Texas Guardsmen staged their vehicles, while Patterson and his team maneuvered through deep waters, diverse terrain and numerous obstacles to get to the family in need.

“The water was pretty bad,” said Texas National Guard Pfc. Martin Davila, 386th Engineer Battalion. “It was everywhere - both sides of the roads. Whole houses were under water.”

Patterson’s team arrived at the house and determined they would need a litter to safely transport the handicapped gentleman to dry land. 

“When we first got there we noticed an inflatable kayak tied to a street sign,” said Matt Paul, swift-water rescue technician and boat operator for Patterson’s Texas Task Force 1 squad. “We decided to use the kayak as a litter and floatation device, which enabled us to transport him in the safest and fastest way we could think of.”

While Paul and the rest of the members of his team worked to safely evacuate their patient, Patterson split off to coordinate for medical transport to ensure that the patient’s medical needs could be taken care of during his evacuation.

Back at the trucks, Guardsmen waited for the swift-water rescue team to return, while volunteers showed up, seemingly out of nowhere, looking to assist in any way possible.

“One of the really cool things was that when we evacuated the patient, a volunteer came over with his boat and evacuated his wife,” said Paul. “Which enabled us to focus on the well-being of the patient and his evacuation.”

Patterson coordinated for ambulance transport after determining that this patient’s medical needs required more attention than might be possible in the military vehicle.

“Because of his medical conditions we couldn’t bring him to any of the shelters open at the time,” said Patterson. “Ambulance transportation was requested but was significantly delayed due to limited resources and an inundation of patients.”

While Patterson worked on coordinating transport, the Guardsmen and Task Force 1 team worked to protect the man as best possible.

“I was keeping a look out for any emergency vehicles so I could help get him out of danger as quick as possible so he could get the medical attention he needed,” said Davila.

Another man, there looking for a family member, had two umbrellas in his vehicle and used them to provide shelter from the rain, for the patient. 

The man needed medical attention for several reasons, one of which was the inability to regulate his own body temperature.

“We had covered him up with as many blankets as we had available, but it continued to rain and the temperature was dropping,” said Paul. “I was concerned with the rain and the temperature; I was worried he would become hypothermic.” 

Then a U.S. Coast Guard rescue helicopter flew by in what appeared to be a regular search pattern. 

Seeing an opportunity for a quicker medical evacuation, Paul placed his hands and arms out in a ‘Y’ signaling to the helicopter crew that he was asking them to land.

“They flew around showing us they would land,” said Paul. “So our Texas Guard partners helped us stop traffic and secure a landing zone for them, and they were able to land – right in the middle of I-10.”

Of course on that day I-10 traffic was a little sparse. 

“It was kind of exciting,” said Davilla. “It was the first time I have ever been a part of an evacuation by air, but it was also nerve-wracking because once we rescued him from the floods we weren’t sure how we would be able to safely evacuate him.”

The team that started out with just Texas soldiers and Task Force 1 swift-water rescue technicians had now doubled in size, adding volunteers and the U.S. Coast Guard, all with one mission, to get a patient in need to safety. 

“The rescue swimmers approached me and I told them the situation,” said Paul. “They agreed that it was a necessary transport given his medical conditions. Then the pilot confirmed that they would be able to evacuate the patient to a safe medical facility.”

As the hybrid team transported the patient from his inflatable kayak-litter to the Coast Guard litter, Patterson told the patient’s wife the plan.

“The wife was very thankful,” said Patterson. “She was extremely surprised with the helicopter, but very thankful.”

Once loaded on board the helicopter, Coast Guardsmen transported the patient and his wife to a medical facility where his condition could be attended to in safety.

“I’m glad we had all of the support we had,” said Davila. “It made me really proud to be a Texan to see how everyone came together to make sure everyone was okay and going somewhere safe.”

In the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, first responders say that this type of joint-teamwork is what is helping save lives.

“This type of teamwork is very unique,” said Paul. “It’s the first time I have worked with so many different entities to include the vast number of volunteers. To me, a lot of those folks are out there with their own equipment and on their own time. They are heroes, out there making sacrifices to help their neighbors out.”

First responders may come from different organizations, but they seem to agree on one thing, working together to help someone in need has also changed them. 

“After the hurricane response is over, this situation will stick out, we all worked together and were able to do something really good for this man,” said Paul.

“I’m really proud to have been a part of this mission and help someone in need,” said Davilla. “I will continue to volunteer for any rescue missions or volunteer work needed in the future.”