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NEWS | Aug. 31, 2017

Texas Army Reserve Soldiers aid local recovery operations

By Sgt. 1st Class Tony Foster 211th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

Soldiers with the 453th Inland Cargo Transfer Company (ICTC) conducted recovery operations to local displaced personnel in Katy, Texas, and neighboring areas in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.

The Army Reserve unit deployed its Soldiers and vehicles to flooded North Houston areas, Aug. 27, and are currently continuing efforts to assist those in need.

“We were called in to support an EMS task force in Katy, Texas,” said 1st Lt. Kristina Samuel, 453th ICTC commander and Houston resident. “It initially started with recovering DPS personnel from the Merrell Center in Katy, and grew to something much larger.”

“We received information from one of our unit’s officers, who is also a policeman, regarding stranded families which led us from transporting a family of seven and their pets, to several truckloads of other displaced families,” Samuel added.

The transportation teams and crews endured continual rainfall and heavily flooded areas during their travels. Regardless of the weather conditions and personnel issues, these Army Reserve Soldiers were ready to assist anyway they could.

“It was a ramp-up-and-go relief effort,” said Sgt. Justin Speight, an automated logistical non-commissioned officer and Houston native. “I got the call and took off. I was ready to go because I knew there were people that were worse off than me, and I wanted to help out others that needed it.”

Soldiers of the transportation company and other Army Reserve units were eager to help, but for some Soldiers the devastation of Hurricane Harvey was personal.

“I grew up in Katy. These are my neighbors,” said Sgt. Kenneth Perry, 453th maintenance platoon sergeant and Katy native. “I actually recovered people that I knew. It really hit home for me.”

Residents of Katy were happy to see a familiar face among the Army Reserve Soldiers providing assistance. “It put a big smile on their faces knowing that I went to high school here, and now I’m back here helping,” Perry said.

Perry and Speight both agreed that it was time well spent helping others, rather than sitting around worrying about what they couldn’t do.
The variety of neighborhoods and establishments assisted ranged from single individuals to entire groups.

“We evacuated a home of Cancer patients ranging from infants to elderly,” said Perry. “We are able to transport around 40 personnel to a local high school that was housing displaced personnel.”

Support from the Army Reserve continues as more Soldiers and units are activated and sent to the areas affected by Hurricane Harvey.

“The Army Reserve stepped up tremendously. We got amazing support from our chain of command with anything we needed,” said Samuel. “Our Army Reserve units really came together, and made it happen.”

These sentiments were shared by Aldine Fire and Rescue Asst. Fire Chief Ed Venegas, regarding the coordination between the Army Reserve and the local police and fire departments.

“We’ve been working in conjunction with some of the Army Reserve’s high-water vehicles and Soldiers,” said Venegas. “It was a good experience working with the Army Reserve, and I hope we get the opportunity to work together more often.”

“The positive attitudes of the Soldiers and crews that work here have been outstanding,” Venegas said. “We expected nothing less, and we got nothing but the best.”