Texas National Guard Continues Relief Efforts
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Sep. 27, 2005 About 3,600 soldiers and airmen of the Texas National Guard continue to conduct relief operations in the areas of eastern and southeastern Texas hardest hit by Hurricane Rita, military officials reported today.
Missions are now focused on moving food, water and ice to Texas residents who were left without basic services in the wake of the storm.
The Texas National Guard soldiers in this operation have more than 650 vehicles in eastern and southeastern Texas. Most of the vehicles and soldiers are being used in the Beaumont and Jefferson County areas.
Army National Guard pilots from Texas, with the support of fellow soldiers from Arizona, Illinois and Minnesota, are flying food and water from Houston's Ellington Field to rural communities using nine UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters and three CH-47 Chinook helicopters. The communities include Polk, Liberty, Tyler, Jefferson, Chambers, Hardin, Jasper, Newton and Nacogdoches. More than 180,000 pounds of food and water were moved Sept. 25.
Texas National Guard soldiers, using both vehicles and helicopters, safely evacuated 87 elderly patients from a nursing home in Fred, Texas, to a hospital in Beaumont Sept. 25.
"Our first priority is to help our fellow Texans," said Army Brig. Gen. Eddy Spurgin, commander of Texas National Guard forces in the area. "We have a lot of soldiers and equipment out here to get this job done, and we will keep after it until we are not needed anymore."
Spurgin echoed what Army Maj. Gen. Charles Rodriguez, the adjutant general of Texas, has said is the Texas National Guard's top priorities in the two disasters: saving human lives, distributing food and water, providing safe shelter, re-establishing security, and aiding in the removal of debris from streets so citizens can return and start rebuilding their communities and homes.
(From a Texas National Guard news release.)