Task Force Ike rolls out for hurricane support

By Spc. William Hatton | 7th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment | September 13, 2008

KELLY AIR FORCE BASE, Texas – In the aftermath of Hurricane Ike, Task Force Ike is sending personnel and supplies from Kelly Air Force Base to aid in disaster relief throughout the hurricane-affected areas along the Texas coast.

Task force Ike unifies military and agency emergency responders and sends them into the impacted areas to assist local officials in helping citizens who are in need, said Army Lt. Gen. Charles Rodriguez, Texas Adjutant General.

Task Force Ike helps citizens in two ways: by conducting search and rescue missions and distributing vital supplies such as water, ice and food, Rodriguez added.

Soldiers from both the Texas Army Reserve and Texas Army National Guard are coming in from all over the state to support the mission, Rodriguez said. Task Force Ike personnel are using more than 500 vehicles to provide assistance.

The emergency response support consists of mostly state-run agencies and volunteers from across the state. However, as support grows for relief operations, one of the largest factors hindering efforts is the adverse weather, Rodriguez said.

Search and rescue helicopters have to wait until strong winds have subsided before being able to enter areas where people need help. But with the aid of local law enforcement agencies, search and rescue missions are becoming more efficient.  Not only do teams survey the area for people in need, but people within the area can call for help with cell phones. This helps the search and rescue missions to be more successful, Rodriguez said.

As work continues along the coast, the supplies and support sent to Task Force Ike reinforce the work already being done, Rodriguez said.

“This kind of response is not possible without all kinds of volunteers,” Rodriguez said. “It’s the different agencies and people coming out just to help that make it possible. This is what it takes to get the mission done.”