The flooding from Hurricane Harvey is beginning to recede. The sun has broken through a time or two, offering hope that the storm may soon end. Yet the need for help remains. The need is so great that the Navy and Marines are on their way. The deployment will be huge and will bolster the search and rescue operations.
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Early in the disaster, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott activated the entire Texas National Guard. That provides an estimated 12,000 troops. “On Sunday,” CNN reports, “the Defense Department and Abbott agreed to establish a ‘dual-status command’ that would allow a single commander for both federal and state forces overseeing and coordinating the response efforts.”
“It is imperative that we give our military and first responders on the ground the most efficient method of execution when responding to the urgent needs of Texans,” Gov. Abbott noted at the time.
The official orders were given on Monday. Medical teams and communications officers were a key concern, as were those in maintenance. They were deployed Tuesday.
Now the USS Kearasarge and USS Oak Hill are on their way to Texas. The Kearsarge, home to 690 US Marines, is heading in from the Atlantic to resupply and will sail Thursday for the Gulf. The air support will include eight MV-22B Ospreys, three CH-53E Super Stallions and three UH-1Y Hueys.
The ships will be bringing Marines, supplies, and a huge boost for air support, but the military has already been flying missions for several days. The Air Force, Navy, and Coast Guard have been flying all week. The Navy has been using MH-60s. The Air Force has HH-60 rotary wing aircraft involved as well.
In addition, the Air Force has deployed pararescue teams. All of these agencies are conducting search and rescue operations. The Navy is using a P-8 surveillance plane to assess the total damage of the storm and find areas that need attention.
At the state level, the Texas National Guard has 16 aircraft deployed along the coast from Corpus Christi to Houston. And other states are pitching in. The New York Air National Guard has sent a C-130, Black Hawks, and C-17s. Utah, North Carolina, and Nebraska have also responded and sent their own helicopters to help.
On the ground, the rescue efforts are being led by vehicles capable of driving through many of the flooded areas.
Even the reserves are being called up. Reserve Marines have been assigned to support FEMA. “Currently, Charlie Company, 4th Assault Amphibian Battalion, based in Galveston, and Charlie Company, 4th Reconnaissance Battalion, based in San Antonio, are conducting immediate response missions in support of the relief efforts,” a statement said.
It is important to note that these are only part of the capabilities that are available for the region. While these brave men and women assist in the immediate rescue efforts, many thousands more have been placed on alert and stand ready to mobilize as soon as the command is given.
You can see a rescue in action here.