State, Local Responders Handle Texas Flood Relief
By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, June 20, 2007 State and local emergency first responders have ably assisted flood-stricken citizens in northern Texas, a state official said today in Austin.
The Texas towns of Gainesville and Sherman, along with some other localities in the northern part of the state, were hit with torrential rains June 18 that caused water to rapidly crest creek and river beds and carry away mobile homes and automobiles.
Gov. Rick Perry had directed that the Texas National Guard be prepared to move in with land and airborne assets to assist in emergency relief efforts, if requested.
However, local and other-state organizations were able to handle the flood-relief situation over the past few days, Gilsela Ryan-Bunger, manager of the state’s emergency operations center in Austin, said today. At least six people were killed as a result of the flooding in northern Texas, according to news reports.
“It was very bad, but fortunately they had a number of communities that all came together to provide that support and there were state resources that were also used,” Ryan-Bunger explained, noting state game wardens conducted waterborne rescues and searched for missing persons.
Some storm survivors were stranded by the rising waters and had to be rescued, Ryan-Bunger said.
“Some were waterborne and some were aerial rescues,” Ryan-Bunger reported. Some aerial rescue missions were conducted by medical evacuation helicopters from local hospitals, she said.
Texas National Guard personnel and equipment activated by the governor to provide potential assistance during post-storm relief operations were demobilized today, Ryan-Bunger said.
“Those (Texas Guard) resources have been released today,” Ryan-Bunger said. “We had them available, if needed, but they were not called upon.”
Six high-riding heavy trucks, three UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters and 38 Guard members had been placed on standby at Fort Worth to render assistance, if needed, Air National Guard Chief Master Sgt. Gonda Moncada reported yesterday from the state’s Joint Forces Office in Austin.
The Texas National Guard’s assets didn’t participate in the flood relief efforts since local and other-state authorities had the situation well in hand, Moncada said today.
“We are there when we’re needed,” Moncada said today. “We are always in a support role; we never take the lead on any of these situations.”