Texas National Guard soldiers arrive in Houston, Texas, to aid citizens in heavily flooded areas from the storms of Hurricane Harvey on Aug. 27, 2017. US Texas Military Department photos by Lt. Zachary West.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott on Monday activated the entire Texas National Guard to help respond to tropical storm Harvey as record rain and flooding continue to inundate the Houston area, and USAF pararescue crews and aircraft are positioned to respond if needed.
A total of about 12,000 Air and Army Guardsmen will help with ongoing search and rescue and recovery in the aftermath of Harvey.
“We will not rest until we have made every effort to rescue all those in harm’s way,” Texas Adjutant General Maj. Gen. John Nichols said in a news release. “We will remain here as long as we are needed.”
Texas officials expect about 450,000 people in the area to seek disaster assistance, with about 30,000 expected to seek shelters, according to CNN. More rain is expected on top of current totals that have greatly eclipsed rainfall records in the Houston area.
Air Force crews are responding, with Active Duty crews on standby if called upon to help the search and rescue effort.
The New York National Guard’s 106th Rescue Wing deployed one HC-130J Combat King II, three HH-60G Pave Hawks, and 104 airmen to Fort Hood to assist in search and rescue. Fourteen airmen from the Kentucky National Guard’s 123rd Special Tactics Squadron deployed to Fort Hood with equipment such as inflatable boats and vehicles suited for recovery operations.
Air Force HC-130J Combat King IIs, HH-60G Pave Hawks, and aircrews from Moody AFB, Ga., are pre-positioned to respond after US Northern Command issued a prepare to deploy order to the 23d Wing, according to a Moody release.
The Civil Air Patrol on Monday also said it was preparing to help support the storm response, with the Texas Wing tasked to take photographs of damage and flooded areas starting as early as Wednesday, according to a CAP news release.
Multiple bases evacuated aircraft before the storm made landfall. T-1A Jayhawks from JBSA-Randolph, Texas, relocated to Tinker AFB, Okla. Reserve C-5s from JBSA-Lackland, Texas, also relocated to Fort Bliss, Texas, before the storm.
“All [airmen] and trainees are safe and secure at this time,” the 37th Training Wing posted to Facebook on Sunday. “We remain vigilant in our preparations in case Harvey moves west toward San Antonio, although that is unlikely at this time. Our thoughts are with those in Houston who are facing flooding as a result of Harvey. We continue to make the safety of all our airmen and their families our priority here in San Antonio and we will continue to post updates as events unfold.”