Right: Working with first responders, engineers from the 111th Engineer Battalion of the Texas Army National Guard rescue three people from a stalled vehicle stuck in a low water crossing near Granbury, Texas, May 26, 2015. Texas Guardsmen have rescued more than 100 Texans in need during flooding across the state since mid-May. U.S. Army photo by 1st Lt. Max Perez.
National Guard Responds to Floods in Texas, Oklahoma
By Army Capt. Martha Nigrelle
Texas National Guard
GRANBURY, Texas, May 28, 2015 – Texas National Guard engineers rescued three people here May 26, and searchers continue hunting for survivors and victims of raging flood waters.
Working with local and state first responders, Texas Guard members spent the Memorial Day weekend responding to calls for help all over Texas as heavy rain pounded the region.
“We got a call around midnight from the local sheriff’s department,” said 1st Lt. Max Perez of the Texas Army National Guard’s 236th Engineer Company, 111th Engineer Battalion. “They asked us to check a neighborhood near the Brazos River for flooded homes and anyone in need.”
Perez took his team of engineers and split into two groups to better search the neighborhood for citizens in need.
“The soldiers responded very quickly. They only took 10 or 15 minutes to get ready to go,” Perez said. “They were pretty motivated about the mission –- eager to save lives.”
With the help of a police officer and a firefighter, the engineers combed through the neighborhood, checking on residents.
“We found a stranded car that couldn’t move,” Perez said. “There was water up to the window of the car.”
The engineers immediately stopped and got out to help, being sure to first secure themselves to a safety line attached to their military vehicle or another stationary object, Perez said. “We saw a family –- a woman, her daughter, about 3 or 4, and a man -- stuck in the car,” he added.
Army Staff Sgt. Thomas Kennington, 111th Forward Support Company, 111th Engineer Battalion, along with several other soldiers, pulled the girl and her mother from the car and brought them to safety, then returned for the man. Once all three people were safe, the team pulled the vehicle to dry land to ensure that it wouldn’t wash away, Perez said.
“This is the first time I’ve ever done anything like this,” Kennington said. “When you’re in that moment with lights flashing, water rushing and soldiers around you whose safety you are concerned for, it’s an adrenaline flow.”
Grateful to Help
The engineers said they were grateful to have been able to help their fellow citizens in need that day.
“The little girl thanked me over and over for saving her and her mama,” Kennington said. “That’s what this is all about.”
Perez said he was just thankful to have been asked to help and that he was proud of his soldiers.
“They showed me the reason why they put on the uniform that night,” said Perez. “Their bravery and dedication was amazing.”
Texas Guard members have rescued more than 100 Texans in need during flooding across the state, since mid-May. Figures from the National Guard Bureau indicate that about 240 personnel are on duty in Texas during this emergency.
In Oklahoma, about 10 National Guard personnel were on duty during that state’s flooding emergency. Guard units in both states conducted helicopter rescues, and in Oklahoma, a helicopter crew provided feed to stranded cattle.