After activating 12,000 Texas National Guard members earlier this week, Gov. Greg Abbott has activated an additional 2,000 troops to help with hurricane relief efforts in the southeastern part of the state.
He also announced that he is working to get another 10,000 troops from Guard units in other states.
Abbott announced on Wednesday during a news conference that 14,000 Texas National Guardsmen are responding to the aftermath of Harvey, which made landfall on Friday as a Category 4 hurricane and is now a tropical storm.
Active-duty forces also are involved in hurricane support, including soldiers from Fort Hood, Texas, and the XVIII Airborne Corps from Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
Continued rainfall caused historic flooding in southeast Texas, and a million people have been displaced from their homes.
Guard members from other states have already been assisting in relief efforts in Texas, but Abbot is requesting another 10,000 troops from National Guard units in other states. The additional 2,000 Texas Guard members include soldiers who have recently returned from deployment.
“We are also getting immediately 200 boats and 200 vehicles from the Department of Defense to be assigned where needed,” Abbott said during the news conference.
Approximately 400 soldiers will travel to the Houston area to assist with hurricane relief efforts.
Before the governor’s announcement, the National Guard Bureau told Army Times that it helped facilitate requests that saw assets arrive in Texas from 15 different states as of Wednesday morning.
“Most of these requests, at this point, were for aviation assets [C-130s and helicopters] and boats,” said Sgt. 1st Class Mike Houk, a spokesman with the Bureau.
Once more needs are identified, he said, more assets will be requested. For example, if more swift boats are needed, National Guard units with those boats can be deployed to Texas.
National Guard continues to support Hurricane Harvey operations
Members from the Army and Air National Guard and the Army Reserve have already been deployed to assist in relief efforts and rescuing stranded residents amid historic rainfall and flooding in Texas.
National Guard units from Arizona, Florida, Louisiana, New Mexico, New York, Oklahoma and Oregon are also helping those left in the storm’s wake.
The Virginia National Guard announced it’s preparing to send approximately 40 soldiers and seven helicopters to Texas on Thursday morning, according to a news release.
Aviation crews from 2nd Battalion, 224th Aviation Regiment will fly five UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters, and Alpha Company, 2nd Battalion, 151st Aviation Regiment will bring two UH-72 Lakota helicopters, the release said.
Possible missions include search and rescue, aerial damage assessment and supply distribution.
According to the Defense Department, there are approximately 400 Air National Guard members in Texas, including troops from:
- Alaska: About 13 airmen with the 176th Rescue Wing.
- California: About 90 airmen with the 129th Rescue Wing.
- Connecticut: A C-130 Hercules transport plane with eight airmen from the 103rd Airlift Wing.
- Florida: Nearly 100 airmen with the 920th Rescue Wing.
- Kentucky: Nearly 20 airmen with the 123rd Special Tactics Squadron.
- New York: More than 100 airmen, a C-130, three HH-60 Pave Hawk search-and-rescue helicopters and two C-17 transport jets with the 106th Rescue Wing.
- Oregon: About 15 members of the 125th Special Tactics Squadron whose missions include rescue as well as restoring airfields so supplies can be flown in.
Army Reserve flight paramedics with C Company, 7-158 General Services Aviation Battalion have also been rescuing displaced residents.
The soldiers rescued a mother and child from rising floodwater, according to an Army Reserve Command news release.
They evacuated the residents via helicopter and took them to safety, the release said.
Army Reserve soldiers from Texas and Colorado have assisted in rescuing more than 3,000 people in the storm’s aftermath using aviation and wheeled vehicles with water fording capabilities, according to a news release.
According to the National Guard, members have helped rescue thousands of displaced residents and more than 300 pets.