ORANGE, TX, UNITED STATES
Story by Staff Sgt. Melisa Washington
100th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment
ORANGE, Texas — Texas National Guard Soldiers from the 36th Infantry Division distributed goods ranging from food and clean water to diapers and baby shoes to stranded residents in low-income neighborhoods of Orange, Sept. 6, 2017.
Orange County established a point of distribution, or POD, at the Orange County Airport following the devastating flood from Hurricane Harvey. The POD receives donated food, water, and hygiene, baby and pet products from private organizations, individuals and the military to distribute to the community. Most PODs are stationary; residents drive through to receive supplies.
Glynis Gothia, a local school teacher and the county commissioner’s wife, serves as the supply coordinator at the airport’s POD. She saw there was a need to transport food and water to residents in some affected areas with help from the Texas National Guard.
"They’re still under water, the military is going to them and bringing them supplies. Because they haven’t been able to get out and get any supplies” Gothia said.
Soldiers encountered families with children and several elderly residents that lived alone. At most houses, the water had receded to the driveway, but the water was still too deep in the street to leave safely.
“Most of these residents are low income. They don’t have anywhere to go or a means to leave. Some people are afraid to leave their homes and their belongings,” said Texas National Guard Cpt. Patrick Lane, 1-133rd Field Artillery, explaining why so many people did not leave.
The Soldiers drove high water vehicles to get through neighborhoods where water levels were still waist-deep in some areas. Soldiers dismounted and trekked through the water on foot to guide the vehicles through the streets and run supplies from the vehicles to driveways and doorsteps.
Texas National Guard Pfc. Jonathan Galindo, 3-133rd Field Artillery, stood on the back of the vehicle, sorting through food and hygiene products to find what the flood victims needed. This was his first experience assisting in a natural disaster.
"This is the way I serve my country. I’m here helping people out, it’s a great feeling. You know, the water is high, they’re not able to get out of their homes. It’s great we’re able to provide for them here” Galindo said.
Soldiers also provided assistance to a Marine veteran and volunteer. His truck went into a ditch full of water while he distributed supplies to affected residents. Equipped with a rope, they pulled the truck out of the ditch.
Teamwork was key for Soldiers on the mobile distribution mission as well as between the military and civilian crew at the POD.
"The coordination effort has been working fairly well. We’ve been real impressed with our military” Gothia expressed, "As long as there’s a need, they’re going to take care of it.”
The Texas Military Department is managing approximately 30 points of distribution in areas affected by Hurricane Harvey.