Two days after deploying 18 airmen for Hurricane Harvey relief, the Kentucky Air National Guard is set to send out 46 more.
An eight-person assessment team from the 123rd Contingency Response Group is scheduled to depart Tuesday afternoon for Houston. Once they arrive, they will assess the physical condition of the airport and evaluate its ability to support relief operations, a release stated.
A second group of 38 airmen from the same unit will depart later Tuesday evening, also to Houston. They will bring all of the equipment needed to establish airfield, aeromedical evacuation and cargo operations.
Col. Bruce Bancroft, the unit’s commander, expects to be operational within a few hours of landing in Houston.
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“We are 100 percent ready to execute this mission and get relief to the people of Texas,” Bancroft stated. “Our prayers and thoughts are with the folks in Houston, and we’re looking forward to the opportunity to put our skills into action. At a time like this, we’re all Texans.”
Follow-up missions are expected for the unit, including off-loading, and staging and moving cargo such as food and water, blankets and medical supplies, Bancroft said.
The group of 14 Kentucky Air National Guardsmen who deployed on Sunday are conducting airfield operations in Houston and rescue missions in Pearland and Friendswood, Texas.
“We have 12 Airmen who went out in motorboats this morning, patrolling in Pearland and Friendswood looking for ‘opportune rescues’ — people who are trapped in their homes or on rooftops because of the flooding,” stated Maj. Aaron Zamora, director of operations for the Kentucky Air Guard’s 123rd Special Tactics Squadron. “Once the residents are safely in the boats, our Airmen are providing medical care if needed and transporting them to the nearest shelter.”
Both units have extensive experience responding to natural disasters. The 123rd CRG was handpicked in 2010 for earthquake-recovery efforts in Haiti, while the unit who left on Sunday was key in establishing and operating a helicopter landing zone on a highway overpass that helped evacuate nearly 12,000 citizens following Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans in 2005.