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Locals Rush to Help Hurricane Evacuations

Posted August 19, 2007
Updated August 21, 2007

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— While thousands evacuate before hurricanes, volunteers from across North Carolina are headed straight to Texas, where forecasters say Hurricane Dean may make landfall.

Local military and civilian emergency-response teams will be on the front lines, if Dean does hit the Texas coast.

More than 50 members of the 43rd Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron flew out of Pope Air Force Base to Brownsville, Texas, in two waves on Sunday.

The personnel, mostly medical workers and evacuation specialists, will help evacuate people from the Brownsville airport.

Two local Red Cross volunteers left the Triangle to report to a staging area in Little Rock, Ark., where their disaster relief will get a specific assignment.

Volunteers Jeff Thompson and Anne Soeder took an Emergency Response Vehicle, which is designed to provide food and supplies in disaster-affected areas.

"Depending on where the storm hits, we'll probably be one of the first people in there with water and food," volunteer Anne Soeder said.

The 43rd AES airmen will also be among the first to arrive and are responsible for setting up a mobile staging facility at the airport and organizing supplies for other evacuation workers, said Capt. Beverly Mock of Pope Air Force Base.

When evacuations begin, the airmen will split into teams with different specialties. One team will help care for sick and vulnerable evacuees at the airport, while two teams will go to hospitals and nursing homes to help evacuate patients. Two other crews will fly with patients to provide in-flight care.

During Hurricane Katrina, the 43rd AES evacuated more than 2,500 people from Louis Armstrong International Airport in New Orleans over three days.

The unit also deployed in support of Iraq operations.

A total of eight Red Cross teams from North Carolina are deploying to Texas, including teams from Durham, Winston-Salem and Asheville.

Thompson explained why he and others volunteer to face the dangers of hurricanes.

"I love helping other people. I'm not really scared of anything," Thompson said. "I love volunteering and helping other people."


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  • Iron Man Aug 20, 2007

    I understand that the huricane evacuees are all coming from Mexico. We are really going to have a problem if they evacuate the victims from Mexico to the US.

  • Bing Used Aug 20, 2007

    Lets hope that people flocking to help doesn't get in the way of the storm.

  • Arkansas Razorback Aug 20, 2007

    The Red Cross volunteers that arrived in Little Rock were sent home today.

  • 2tallman Aug 20, 2007

    OK lets go ahead and evacuate Miami in preparation for Hurricane Dean....Hmmmmm..........Does WRAL even read their own website or look at the pictures posted under Special Hurricane section???? The eye is expected to hit hundreds of miles south either in the southern Yucatan, or in all reality Belize. Texas is in eminent danger of some high passing cumulous clouds.......GET READY

  • 1 of the original Americans Aug 20, 2007

    He's supposted to hit Mexico--wait a minute, same thing.

    Hummm... was that sarcasim or your lack of knowledge?

  • carrese Aug 20, 2007

    Hurricane Dean isn't even forcasted to hit Texas. He's supposted to hit Mexico--wait a minute, same thing.

  • ratnix Aug 20, 2007

    "Don't blame the federal government for katrina, You need to be looking at the mayor of New Orleans as the source of the failures."

    A local mayor does not have the political clout to rustle up the National Guard to aid in evacuations. He's got the police, and a phone line to the Governor to beg for the Guard to be mobilized.

    Now, I'll grant you that more could have been done locally to get people out. But the Army Corps of Engineers is pretty darn Federal, so, how is the levee failure anything but a fedgov failure?

  • emtp2k Aug 19, 2007

    The failure during Katrina was a local problem, It was the fault of the local officials who had been through tabletop exercises and knew before hand that the levies could fail and did nothing to evacuate the people ahead of time. Before Katrina the Military could not help until after the fact. Since then some laws have been changed so they can help prepare for evacuees ahead of the storm and moving supplies etc. Don't blame the federal government for katrina, You need to be looking at the mayor of New Orleans as the source of the failures.

  • headlong Aug 19, 2007

    Agree Rainy39...

    Watching the storm and aftermath on Weather Channel is scary...but boy we could all use the rain from it Huh??? Not the destruction for sure.

  • Ilaina Aug 19, 2007

    london12--to answer your question, last year hurricane Rita hit the Texas coast. There was a massive amount of people evacuating at one time. Traffic was so tied-up that people died of heat stroke sitting in their cars. Roadways were grid-locked for hours. Their cars overheated and left them stranded. I think the government is trying to help these people out and preventing this from happening again.