Texas Guard Leader Vows All-Out Effort for Hurricane Ike
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Sep. 12, 2008 Texas National Guard personnel began rescuing residents stranded by rising waters Friday afternoon, and the Lone Star State's National Guard commander vowed to resume relief missions as soon as Hurricane Ike vents its anticipated fury on the Houston region sometime Saturday.
“After the storm passes, whatever the surge may be or the damage may be, our primary mission is to get back in there as soon as we can,” said Maj. Gen. Charles Rodriguez, the state's adjutant general, on Friday.
Meanwhile Friday, two Texas Army Guard Blackhawk helicopters reportedly rescued 16 civilians who were stranded by high waters on a bridge near Bolivar Island, in the mouth of Galveston Bay near Houston, and flew them to Ellington Field in Houston. High winds in advance of the hurricane forced the helicopter crews to return to their base, Texas officials reported.
National Guard officials reported as many as 300 people were stranded in vehicles on the bridge.
The state has established Texas Task Force Ike comprised of military and civilian law enforcement and emergency management personnel, Rodriguez said.
Gov. Rick Perry earlier this week authorized calling up 7,500 National Guard Soldiers and Airmen to state active duty because of the emergency. About 3,000 Soldiers, Airmen and 500 high-water vehicles, generators and other assets have already been deployed for the pre-landfall phase of operations.
“The No. 1 mission is search and rescue, second is damage assessment, and third is setting up points of distribution,” Rodriguez said. “We’re going to use helicopters for damage assessment and rescue missions.”
The task force is also prepared to position another 500 vehicles at points of distribution. The National Guard plans to hand out water, ice, and food provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency at distribution points throughout the area.
(From a National Guard Bureau news release.)