9/7/2005 - WASHINGTON -- As Hurricane Katrina passed through the Gulf Coast region, the Air Force responded even before the full gravity of the effects were known, taking care of its own people, and assisting in rescue and recovery missions afterwards.
"The total force of the Air Force -- the active duty, Guard and Reserve -- have responded aggressively and effectively to the challenge of the Hurricane Katrina (aftermath)," said acting Secretary of the Air Force Pete Geren. "We currently have over 8,000 Air Force personnel deployed right now (in support of operations)."
Air Force units have provided aerial photography and imagery of the damaged areas to government officials to aid in recovery and planning efforts, he said.
The Air Force is also actively involved in search-and-rescue missions -- rescuing more than 5,000 people to date, while trying to meet medical needs of the injured.
"We've treated over 5,500 civilians that have suffered some sort of medical problems and air-evacuated nearly 2,500 people out of the disaster area to receive greater medical care," Mr. Geren said.
Katrina devastated several areas of the gulf region, and one Air Force base in Mississippi.
"Keesler Air Force Base was hit hard by the hurricane and suffered significant damage," he said. "I'd like to recognize the extraordinary response of the Airmen and civilians at Keesler Air Force Base. These men and women stepped right up to get the base operational. Not only meeting the needs of the Air Force, but supporting the operations throughout the gulf region and the local community they call home."
Air Force units continue to carry on operations and assist in any capacity possible.
"The Air Force has responded and we're doing everything we can to meet the needs of the people in a disaster that is unprecedented in America's history," he said.