VICTORIA, TX, UNITED STATES
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.