AUSTIN, TEXAS, TX, UNITED STATES
Story by Sgt. Mark Otte
Texas Military Department
AUSTIN, Texas--The Texas Military Department, May 10, 2017, hosted its annual interagency Hurricane Rehearsal of Concept drill at Camp Mabry in Austin.
Each year the Texas Military Department Domestic Operations Task Force invites its emergency-response partners from around the state to Camp Mabry for a walk through of the interagency-plan to integrate the TMD’s assets into a hurricane response, should one hit Texas. During the drill representatives of each agency described their responsibilities at each phase of the 120-hour statewide response to a fictional hurricane's looming landfall, this time in Houston.
Representatives from around a dozen agencies attended the forum, including Texas Department of Emergency Management, Texas Department of Public Safety, Texas Task Force 1, the Texas Army and Air National Guard as well as officials from local agencies.
"Revising our plan, sharing lessons learned, implementing new tools and refining our processes helps maintain a relevant and ready force," said Maj. Matthew Combs, J7 Director for the Texas Military Department. "Working with our partners establishes a relationship that builds trust and reliability, ensuring that the citizens of our great state have the best when they need it the most."
Part of the Texas Military Department's hurricane response is to quickly transform its standing battle-ready units into smaller more efficient groups that can more effectively address the needs of Texas citizens in a time of crisis. These Mission Ready Packages can rapidly be dispersed around the state when requested by local entities. Packages include equipment, like aviation assets, that make life-saving rescues possible in locations that might not have been, using only local equipment.
The Texas Military Department has developed these Mission Ready Packages through its ongoing operations around the state.
"I am often asked why we use Mission Ready Packages instead of sending the entire military units," said Maj. Gen John F. Nichols, The Adjutant General for Texas. "Over the past 13 years, with over 586,000 man-days across 230 different support missions, we have learned that an entire unit organized for military operations is not always the most efficient or effective for a domestic response."
One of the major obstacles that officials sought to address was the explosive growth around Houston. Because of that growth, more high-water rescue assets may be needed to rescue the additional citizens living in newly developed areas. Planners at the meeting said that the Texas Military Department has the equipment needed to perform the rescues, but that maintaining current maps of those areas at a high risk of flooding should be a priority.
The drill is just one step in the state's ongoing commitment to hurricane response preparedness. Prior to May’s event a tabletop exercise was completed, and in June a full-scale statewide response to another fictitious hurricane will be the final dress rehearsal before the 2017 hurricane season gets into full swing.
The last major hurricane strike in Texas was in 2008 when hurricane Ike, a category 2 hurricane, made landfall in Galveston. Then Governor, Rick Perry, authorized 7500 troops to be mobilized to the area in response to that storm.