Texas Air National Guard wing transports 468 Hurricane Harvey evacuees
By Staff Sgt. Kristina Overton, 136th Airlift Wing
/ Published September 01, 2017
GALVESTON, TX, UNITED STATES -- Hurricane Harvey has been named the most hazardous land-falling tropical cyclone in the continental U.S. The hurricane dropped more than 51 inches of water in a 6-day period, causing an estimated $75 billion in damages.
In support of critical efforts to aid victims of Hurricane Harvey, members of the 181st Airlift Squadron with the 136th Airlift Wing, Texas Air National Guard, have been working around the clock to provide personnel, equipment and air support for evacuees in southern Texas.
Since the first relief mission Aug. 28, the squadron has flown 60 sorties and relocated 468 evacuees and 17 pets to the Dallas area.
“We got the initial notification on Sunday that we might be coming to the gulf area to support and on Monday they called us early to head out,” said 1st Lt. Chad Douglass, 181st Airlift Squadron C-130H2 Hercules co-pilot. “The weather conditions were pretty bad when we got here, but we made it through and were able to get 70 people out safely that day.”
Primary missions to retrieve evacuees have been out of the Galveston and Beaumont areas. The deployment tempo can change quickly as taskings are issued to the wing, and aircrews must be ready to mobilize on short notice.
“When things happen like this, we are there to support in any way we can,” Douglass said. “I’ve been in for four years and it’s one of the best parts about being a part of the squadron. To know that we are able to help in the effort and get those people out of there. It’s an honor.”
While the evacuation of hundreds of people has been a key part of the 181st Airlift Squadron’s mission, the unit has also delivered personnel and equipment to and from more than 10 locations. The wing shipped 290 tons of equipment including fuel tanks, medical supplies, vehicles, water, and other essential items to the gulf areas for disaster relief.
“This is our job,” said Airman 1st Class Douglas Buchanan, 181st Airlift Squadron loadmaster, “it’s what we signed up to do and trained for. It’s been crazy seeing so many people who have just lost their homes, carrying trash bags containing pretty much all they have left that wasn’t destroyed by the hurricane and flooding. To be able to help them, Texans taking care of Texans, I am proud to be a part of the Guard and proud of them as well for staying as strong as they are.”