On Monday, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott activated the entirety of the Texas National Guard as Tropical Storm Harvey continues to create more victims within the Houston area, and overwhelm rescue personnel.
According to a statement from Abbott’s office, some 12,000 members of the Texas National Guard will come to south Texas in order to assist with ongoing rescue efforts in cities such as Houston. Houston has experienced devastating flooding that has trapped thousands of residents in their homes.
“It is imperative that we do everything possible to protect the lives and safety of people across the state of Texas as we continue to face the aftermath of this storm,” said Abbott. “The Texas National Guard is working closely with FEMA and federal troops to respond urgently to the growing needs of Texans who have fallen victim to Hurricane Harvey, and the activation of the entire Guard will assist in the efforts already underway.”
— Omar Villafranca (@OmarVillafranca) August 28, 2017
Prior to Abbott’s decision, the Texas National Guard had 3,000 active members assisting with aid efforts. Abbott’s call will activate the remaining able bodied members into service
According to the LA Times, the number of victims has overwhelmed rescue personnel, and clogged emergency lines. On Sunday night, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said 911 operators received 56,000 calls in less than 24 hours. Fire and rescue personnel have reportedly received 6,000 calls for aid, and have rescued 1,000 already.
“If you’re stranded in your vehicle, but you are in a safe place, or a dry place, let’s give preference to those who are in a situation in their home where water is rising very quickly,” Turner told the press on Sunday. “I ask that you continue to call. We are manning 911. But a lot of calls have come in.”
Meanwhile, the U.S. Coast Guard has posted a series of phone numbers Texans can call for help, and hopefully expedite the rescue process.
— U.S. Coast Guard (@USCG) August 27, 2017
According to the Washington Examiner, FEMA Director Brock Long expects more than 30,000 people to be placed in temporary shelters, and 450,000 to file for assistance after the storm.
“While this is still a dangerous situation with a long response effort ahead, the state and people of Texas are resilient,” said Long according to Abbott’s office. “FEMA was here before the storm hit, and we will be here as long as needed, actively coordinating the full resources of the federal government, to support Gov. Abbott and the state.”
Civilian efforts are also ongoing
Civilians have joined the government in rescue efforts, further lightening the load of the state government.
According to Louisiana’s citizen-run Cajun Navy, volunteers have already arrived in Texas with private watercraft, and have begun searching for flood victims. The Cajun Navy is currently using the smartphone app “Zello” to locate stranded residents, and coordinate their rescue.
The Lighthouse Charity Team from Galveston is also on scene to rescue those in need in the Dickinson area. Additionally, they are collecting items to deliver to shelters around the area.