CAMP MABRY, Austin, Texas (Sep 9, 2008, 3 p.m.) – Governor Rick Perry has once again authorized state active duty deployment for up to 7,500 Texas Military Soldiers and Airmen in response to Hurricane IKE, a weather system threatening the Gulf Coast.
What started with Hurricanes Dolly, Edouard and Gustav, is now being dwarfed by what officials say is a very dangerous hurricane IKE. State preparations started Sunday at H-120 or 120 hours prior to expected landfall. Key personnel from local, state and federal agencies gathered to brief Mr. Jack Colley, Deputy Director (Governor’s Office) Division of Emergency Management on the state of readiness.
If anything, this 2008 hurricane season has demonstrated that we have to be prepared at all times. Hurricanes do not occur at convenient times or with sufficiently timed intervals. For Texas Military Forces, their families and civilian employers it means that “preparedness” is not a catch phrase but a constant state of readiness that impacts the local community because of and in spite of a Soldier or Airman’s deployment. The civilian employer may lose a valued employee to military duty, but receives in return force multipliers who save lives in their communities and protect property from flood waters.
For the Texas Military Forces IKE’s current preparations are comprised of pre-and post landfall assistance and include ground and air evacuation hubs, bus fueling points, management of staging areas for evacuation buses, points of distribution operations and shelter management.
All available air assets are being reconfigured for search and rescue and medical air evacuations.
Defense Support to Civil Authorities is not your typical military operation and requires patience and adaptation to current circumstances. Sometimes our best-laid plans change in favor of a dramatic change in the weather pattern or even where the storm will make landfall, but whatever the case maybe, our main focus will never shift which is the safety and wellbeing of our fellow citizens.
If our mere presence in a community has a calming effect, then that is our mission. When we have to go door-to-door to hand out MREs, ice and water - then that is our mission. When we have to fly patients to safety – that is what we do. When the power fails and we reestablish communications with first responders and district disaster commanders, we’ll do that; but first and foremost our mission is to save lives and protect property.
If you need us, we will be there.