State National Guard Members Assisting in Rescue Efforts
PORT ARTHUR – The Texas National Guard and other service members continue working on rescue operations in the Port Arthur area.
A CHANNEL 5 NEWS crew accompanied the El Campo-based 551st Multi-Role Bridge Company as they searched through the affected areas.
“We’ve been going in, in the past couple weeks we’ve been here going into every single place we can get into,” Sgt. Luevano said.
The crew travels on various high-profile vehicles that allow them to go into difficult areas. When the water level is too high, they launch their deep-water rescue boat, the Zodiac.
“(It’s a) rubber bottom boat with an actual motor on it and it will carry up to 12 people,” Sgt. Luevan explained. “We’ll go in as deep as we can. And if we can’t get any deeper, we’ll go ahead and download our boats and go in boat from there."
Sgt. Luevano adds there’s uncertainty as they move through the Harvey-hit area.
“We’re not sure what we are going to see once we get out there. But we’re capable of picking up people and marking houses, working with the local fire department,” he said. “So, wherever they need us, we’re going to get to them."
We met with Port Arthur resident Steve Helton. He was tearing the floors on his home.
"I've helped others. We've been through several hurricanes but never this kind of damage," he said.
Helton is also road contractor. He said he's trying to get a local bridge repaired.
"There's a big hole between the bridge and the road coming up," he told CHANNEL 5 NEWS.
SPC Chandler Patterson with the Texas Army National Guard said their motivation to help their state is what keeps them going. He said some soldiers have been up for 48 hours straight.
"We've been able to send some people home, rotate some people in and out, get some rest," he said. "Our first couple groups in here were dog tired by the time we got here."
Soldiers said they expect to scale back on search and rescue operations and help more on relief efforts, like handing out food and water, to get the area back on its feet.
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