Bush Visits Military Hurricane-Relief Hub at U.S. Northern Command
By Petty Officer 3rd Class John R. Guardiano, USN
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Sept. 24, 2005 President Bush today visited U.S. Northern Command to see military personnel in action as they dealt with humanitarian issues surrounding the landfall of Hurricane Rita.
"I've come here to watch NORTHCOM in action -- to see firsthand the capacity of our military to plan, organize and move equipment to help the people in the affected areas, in this case, Louisiana and Texas," Bush said.
The U.S. Northern Command has deployed military assets and equipment to the Gulf Coast to assist with ongoing hurricane-relief efforts there, officials said.
"I want to thank all the folks who work here in NORTHCOM for doing their duty, which is to organize and rally the assets of the federal government to help our fellow citizens who are in need," Bush said.
U.S. Northern Command has coordinated deployment to the Gulf region of the following assets:
- Five Mortuary Affairs teams redirected from New Orleans to Fort Sam Houston, Texas. Another five teams will be placed on alert to support task forces Rita and Katrina.
- More than 50 helicopters, a P-3 Orion and two C-130 fixed-wing aircraft available for damage assessment, search and rescue, movement of critical supplies and medevac.
- Sensor-equipped aircraft to provide high definition electro-optical, infrared, radar, and full-motion video, available for damage assessment and search and rescue.
- Several communications teams providing extensive capabilities for rescue and relief workers.
- 800 Marines from 1ST Battalion, 8th Marines, onboard USS Iwo Jima to assist in humanitarian assistance.
- USS Grapple to provide maritime-salvage and debris-clearing capability.
- Four critical air transport teams to support movement of patients from the Beaumont-Houston, Texas, area.
- More than 300 medical personnel to be ready to man 10 Department of Health and Human Services field medical shelters throughout the affected region.
- Camp Bullis, Texas, designated as an operational staging area. Ellington Field, in Houston, is designated as a primary helicopter hub.
- Temporary bridging capability from mainland Texas to Galveston Island.
- Capacity to feed 500,000 meals per day over 15 locations.
- Air traffic control crews.
- Twenty-five distribution centers for food, water, ice and other basic necessities to be operated by the military. Forty-five truckloads of ice and water, and 25 truckloads of military rations.
- Mosquito control as necessary to prevent the spread of disease.
NORTHCOM's Joint Operations Center continues 24-hour operations in Colorado Springs, Colo., to monitor the storm's progress and to facilitate subsequent requests for assistance that may come from FEMA representatives, officials said.
Completed NORTHCOM work includes: aeromedical evacuation of more than 3,000 critically-ill patients out of the hurricane's path, 250 buses to assist evacuation, and 15 military ambulances to evacuate nursing-home residents.