The Texas State Guard, in support of civil authorities, assisted in establishing safe shelters for evacuated flood victims in the south-eastern region of the state, March 14-21, 2016. “We have a total of 18 soldiers from the State Guard here to supplement the Red Cross in any way they need us. They run the shelter, and we support their efforts,” said Sgt. Christopher T. Riehle, recruiter, 3rd Battalion, 8th Regiment. “We train closely with the Red Cross and other agencies to make sure we are prepared for something like this.” The Texas State Guard trains annually to remain proficient in the duties they per-form while called upon during disaster relief missions. Some of the emergency response training includes shelter management, search and rescue, emergency communications, mass care and medical support. “We assist with setting up the shelter, but it could be anything from moving tables to providing security or just talking to the clients that are here,” said Staff Sgt. Nick B. Martinez, 2nd Battalion, 8th Regiment.
“Just being able to help is a great reward.” Guardsmen ran 24-hour operations at the shelter to ensure anyone in need was equipped with immediate support. “At our peak we had about 170 clients that needed our help,” said Shelter Manager Marie Killingsworth, American Red Cross Volunteer. “The Soldiers have been here since the beginning. I love that they are so flexible, and can move at the drop of a dime.”
The Texas State Guard assisted with supporting three other safety shelters, two of which were evacuated due to flood concerns and consolidated in Beaumont. “This is now the fourth shelter we have been a part of and we are fully trained to do what it takes to help,” said Riehle. “The best part is when the clients thank us for being here because they know they’re going to get the help that they need.” The Texas Military Department activated more than 150 service members from the Texas Army National Guard and the Texas State Guard during severe flooding in Orange, Newton and Jasper counties. They provided swift water rescue support to emergency first responders, rescuing and evacuating 410 people from the floods, and supported shelter operations, providing basic necessities to hundreds of people in need.