Texas Military Forces
CAMP MABRY, Austin, Texas (09/09/2008) - Texas Gov. Rick Perry has once again authorized the call-up of up to 7,500 Texas Military Soldiers and Airmen in response to Hurricane Ike, the current weather system threatening the Gulf Coast.
State preparations started Sept. 7 when key personnel from local, state and federal agencies gathered for a readiness briefing with Jack Colley, the deputy director of the state's Division of Emergency Management.
"If anything, this 2008 hurricane season has demonstrated that we have to be prepared at all times," said Chief Master Sgt. Gonda Moncada. "Hurricanes do not occur at convenient times or in sufficiently timed intervals."
Current preparations by the Texas National Guard consist 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 for food and water and shelter management. All available air assets are being reconfigured for search and rescue missions and medical air evacuations.
Two Texas Air National Guard units have been alerted to provide evacuation operations and communications capabilities in relief efforts prior to the arrival of Hurricane Ike.
The 136th Airlift Wing from Naval Air Station and Joint Reserve Base Fort Worth, Texas, will provide up to 250 personnel to assist in Texas and Louisiana, while the 149th Fighter Wing of Lackland Air Force Base, Texas will provide up to 100 personnel to help out in Texas.
Texas Army National Guard aviation assets have also been alerted for search and rescue missions.
The center of Ike is expected to emerge into the southeastern Gulf of Mexico this afternoon, according to the National Hurricane Center. Ike is a currently a category one hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson scale with maximum sustained winds near 80 MPH with higher gusts.
The hurricane center stated that some weakening is likely as Ike crosses western Cuba during the next several hours but strengthening is expected once Ike moves into the Gulf of Mexico. Hurricane force winds extend outward up to 35 miles from the center and tropical storm force winds extend outward up to 195 miles.
Responding to a natural disaster is not a typical military operation, and it "requires patience and adaptation to current circumstances," Moncada said. "Sometimes our best-laid plans change ... but whatever the case may be, 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," she said.