JB San Antonio joins Hurricane Harvey disaster relief efforts

  • Published
  • By Dan Hawkins
  • 502nd Air Base Wing Public Affairs
Several mission partners across the base have sprung together into action setting up installation support bases to support Hurricane Harvey disaster relief operations across the south Texas region. 

The hurricane, projected by weather forecasters to dump rain on the south Texas region for several more days, has necessitated the activation of both active-duty military personnel and the entire Texas National Guard.

U.S. Army North (Fifth Army), headquartered at Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston, Texas, is scheduled to deploy Task Force 51 to Kelly Field Annex, Texas, adjacent to JB San Antonio-Lackland, Texas, to provide command and control over Title 10 assets, which will provide coordinated support to civil authorities. Task Force 51’s mission is to deploy a contingency command post to conduct support for Defense Support of Civil Authority, homeland defense and theater security cooperation in order to promote the defense and security of the U.S..

“We (ARNORTH) are prepared to help the state of Texas and (Federal Emerency Management Agency) with saving lives.” said Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Buchanan, the ARNORTH commander. “So far they have done a great job responding to the needs of the people, but the weather isn’t breaking so we will stay vigilant and increase our posture to assist as needed."

At JB San Antonio-Seguin, Texas, the Defense Logistics Agency and FEMA, with the support of the 502nd Air Base Wing, set up an Incident Support Base, or ISB, operation Aug. 24, 2017. The mission includes pre-positioning of supplies including water, meals, blankets and other resources closer to the affected areas. During normal operations, Seguin Auxiliary Airfield, Texas, is owned and operated by JB San Aantonio and serves as a flying training location for pilots from the 12th Flying Training Wing, located at JB San Antonio-Randolph.

A second ISB is being coordinated for stand-up at JB San Antonio-Randolph to help manage overflow from the Seguin operation with the support of both the 502nd ABW and the 12th FTW. 

JB San Antonio-Camp Bullis, Texas, has been tapped as a bed-down location for both the Texas Army National Guard and Texas Air National Guard, which was activated for the relief efforts. 

The 502nd ABW Emergency Operations Center, or EOC, has been at the hub of emergency management actions since the storm began to threaten landfall on Aug. 24, 2017. 

“We stood up (Aug. 24, 2017) and we have been manned 24 hours a day since, with a cadre of very experienced and dedicated emergency managers and emergency support function representatives from the 502nd ABW and 59th (Medical Wing),” said Col. Jonathan Wright, the 502nd Installation Support Group commander and EOC director. “The EOC has provided a critical link between the JB San Antonio Crisis Action Team for strategic command and control to the Unit Control Centers for tactical execution. We also have representatives from the Port of San Antonio and the Air Force liaison officer to FEMA, as well as maintaining communication with the city of San Antonio's EOC.”

“We’ve been ready for situations like this,” Wright said. “Our job requires us to coordinate actions across multiple command and jurisdictions in an efficient manner that maximizes resources across JB San Antonio. We’re proud to perform this enabling role in support of Hurricane Harvey recovery operations.”

Since the stand-up, the EOC has been supporting a variety of Hurricane Harvey missions, both across JB San Antonio and to the areas of Corpus Christi, Texas, Houston, and Dallas/Ft Worth. In addition to previously mentioned missions, the 502nd Civil Engineer Squadron has been working around the clock to respond to JB San Antonio-specific storm damage, while personnel from both the 502nd Logistics Readiness Squadron and the 502nd CES to provide refueling support and explosive ordnance support for the president's visit to Corpus Christi, Wright said.