ORANGE, TX, UNITED STATES
Story by Sgt. Matthew Wright>
56th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (36th ID, TXARNG)
Beaumont, TEXAS -- Hurricane Harvey may be long gone, but it’s path of destruction is still felt throughout the coastline of Texas and Louisiana. As the flooding continued throughout Houston and east to the state border, thousands of Army and Air National Guard troops made their way into the area with the purpose of rescuing residents trapped by the rising waters.
The Chaplain Corps of the Texas National Guard went were out into the water with the rest of the Soldiers and Airmen rescuing people out of their homes as the waters started rising at a rapid rate.
Chaplain (1st. Lt.) Angel D. Newhart from the 71st Theater Information Operations Group (TIOG), along with her chaplain assistant, Spc. Alexandria N Velasquez were part of a unit out in Katy, Texas aiding the rescues. Newhart recalled several stories of camaraderie with the Soldiers and the compassion the citizens had for their rescuers, especially with those who weren’t able to save themselves.
She recalled, one event when a man suffering from Cerebral Palsy was unable to leave his home. He was helped into his wheelchair and aided into the truck by the Soldiers. The medic came and immediately washed the blood off, cleaned and wrapped his feet from him water exposure.
“It was just, you know, one of those things you see and it touches your heart ” Newhart said. “It was a sweet that’s why we are here moment.”
As the waters receded along most of the coast, the 56th Task Force shifted gears from rescue to recovery, the Chaplain Corps’ work only doubled with the effort to bring much needed supplies to communities.
Another Chaplain, Cpt. Brian K. Hudson from the 36th Infantry Division, has been working with the churches in the Beaumont and Orange townships. Using a warehouse holding supplies, Hudson transported items such as water, food, baby and hygiene products to the churches to distribute.
“I meet with the local church and we drop off the stuff over to them and they take it from there and distribute out to the communities” Hudson stated. “I liasson and I am supplying so they can take care of their communities.”
The churches, once supplied, would be distribution centers in their communities for people hit by the floods, as well as personally sending those items to the those people who couldn’t or wouldn’t leave their homes due to transportation issues, especially in the lower income areas.
At one of their distribution points, First Church of Orange, Texas, Soldiers apologized for only able to bring eight pallets of supplies. Despite that they still felt a sense of pride and selflessness for helping the communities that so desperately need them.
Spc. Adam B. Miller, a Soldier dropping off the supplies said he felt the gratitude from local communities when the unit gives out supplies to the lower income communities and that is a great feeling.