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Kentucky-based airmen use social media to help rescue those stranded by Harvey

Kentucky Air National Guardsmen conduct water rescue missions in Port Arthur, Texas, Aug. 30, 2017, in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. The Airmen, assigned to the 123rd Special Tactics Squadron, are patrolling the area in motorboats, looking for people who are trapped in their homes or on rooftops because of the massive flooding. Once the residents are safely in the boats, the Airmen provide any necessary medical care and transport them to the nearest shelter.
Kentucky Air National Guardsmen conduct water rescue missions in Port Arthur, Texas, Aug. 30, 2017, in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. The Airmen, assigned to the 123rd Special Tactics Squadron, are patrolling the area in motorboats, looking for people who are trapped in their homes or on rooftops because of the massive flooding. Once the residents are safely in the boats, the Airmen provide any necessary medical care and transport them to the nearest shelter.

National Guard airmen based in Kentucky took their skills to Texas this week to help with the rescue and evacuation of those stranded by hurricane Harvey.

A team of 38 airmen with the 123rd and 125th special tactics squadrons used boats and the power of social media to reach people who were trapped by high waters in Houston, according to an Air National Guard news release. The 123rd squadron deployed from Louisville and the 125th were brought in from Portland, Ore.

Analysts were able to comb through social media posts remotely to connect the team with people in need of rescue. In one case, a social media post was able to lead them to an elderly couple trapped in an attic, according to the news release.

“The area we’re working in is completely inundated with hundreds, if not thousands, of requests for rescue,” Tech. Sgt. Brian Davis said in the new release. “Since we’re such a small team with a specialized skill set, we find the people who are most in need and look for people who need specialized rescue.”

As of Friday, the airmen had rescued more than 330 trapped individuals.

“It’s like the Nile formed in neighborhoods throughout the Houston area — we’re talking four to six feet of standing water stranding people who can’t swim, families with children and drivers who are unaware of the depth of water on the roads,” Maj. Aaron Zamora said in the news release. Zamora is the director of operations with the 123rd Special Tactics Squadron and the mission commander.

Members of the Kentucky’s 123rd Contingency Response Group have also been on the ground in Texas performing water rescues, according to a news release.

Both of groups of airmen have experience responding to national disasters, having been deployed in New Orleans after hurricane Katrina. Airmen with the 123rd also helped provide airfield operations in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake.

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