Relief After Harvey
Hurricane Harvey, a Category 4 storm, hit the Houston region with devastating force on Aug. 24, and immediately caused rapid flooding.
Before the storm, aircraft from across Texas and Louisiana flew away from the coast, staying at bases such as Tinker AFB, Okla., and Little Rock AFB, Ark.
The mobilization response began immediately, with Texas Gov. Greg Abbott mobilizing the state’s entire National Guard, and Active Duty, Reserve, and Guard forces from across the world immediately called to respond. A total of 1,917 total force airmen directly supported relief operations. More than 80 percent of that response force came from the Air Force Reserve or the Air National Guard.
“I’m just waiting to see the relief on their faces when they are saved,” said SSgt. April Cooper, a technician with the 375th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron at Scott AFB, Ill., who deployed on Aug. 30 for Harvey relief. “It hits home when it happens in your back door. That feeling of, ‘Hey, we’ve got to get in there and get it done.’ Nothing says America like that.’”
Air Forces Northern at Tyndall AFB, Fla., coordinated aerial operations of federal military assets in the relief operations, including the Air Force’s contingent of HH-60Gs and MC-130s from rescue units including Moody AFB, Ga.; Patrick AFB, Fla.; the Kentucky Air National Guard; the Alaska Air National Guard; the Oregon Air National Guard; and the California Air National Guard.
The Tyndall center coordinated 2,078 search and rescue operations, with more than 16,800 total individuals rescued by the Department of Defense, Department of Homeland Security, the US Coast Guard, Customs and Border Protection, and FEMA.
The Air Force’s response included critical care transport teams, combat communications squadrons, and dozens of C-17 and C-130 flights of relief supplies from units across the country. Air Force E-3 Sentries, E-8C JSTARS, and RC-26 Metroliners flew reconnaissance flights, along with Navy E-2 Hawkeyes serving as a communications relay.