Army Staff Sgt. Michael J. Carden
American Forces Press Service
GALVESTON, Texas (AFPN) (08/15/08) - Airmen from the Texas Air National Guard and Soldiers from the Texas Army National Guard banded together with civilian emergency responders to help people affected by Hurricane Ike in Galveston, Texas, Sept. 14.
Joint responders assisted with people at a local high school before busing them to San Antonio.
"Right now the folks are providing medical care as required and identifying folks and making sure they are hydrated, not being effected by the heat and can travel safely by bus," said Lt. Col. Craig Manifold, the on-scene Air National Guard physician commander.
The evacuees carried what they could. Some had their family pets under their arms, others had their belongings in a bed sheet slung over their shoulders.
"I lost everything," said Cecilia Rivera, from Galveston, Texas. "I was asleep and woke up to the sound of water rushing in. Our refrigerator was knocked over and our washing machine -- everything. When I got out of bed the water was to my chest."
People with similar stories were put into groups of approximately 40 per bus. Master Sgt. Joe Casanova, from the 149th Medical Group, took identification information down and handed out water as approximately 1,000 people boarded buses.
"It's unfortunate these things happen, but at least we kept the families together on the buses," Sergeant Casanova said.
Maj. Alvaro Liendo, a pharmacist with the Army National Guard medical corps, was also assisting people in line to determine if they needed ambulatory care.
Major Liendo said at least two individuals, one having difficulty breathing, the other a diabetic, were moved by litter and transferred by ambulance to Texas Medical Hospital in Houston.
"I tried to lend a hand wherever I could," Major Liendo said. "It felt great to see their smiling faces as they boarded the buses."
Sergeant Casanova shared enthusiasm for seeing people in need brought to safety.
"From serving in the war on terror to doing things like this. This is our job -- I love it, I love helping these people out," Sergeant Casanova said.
The evacuees talked with the joint military and civilian agencies as they were helped into buses. Some offered their appreciation.
"I'm Thankful for all the help everyone has given us, I appreciate their humanity. Most of all, we're happy to be alive," said Victor Huerta, a Galveston evacuee.