Texas Flooding Update: National Guard Search And Rescue Operations
MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:
Now, we're going to continue our coverage of the storm that's inundating parts of Houston, as we just heard, by going to Colonel Steven Metze. He's the public affairs officer for the Texas Military Department that's conducting search-and-rescue operations, and he's with us now to talk about the rescue efforts being conducted by the National Guard. Colonel, thanks so much for being with us. We know you're very busy right now.
STEVEN METZE: Glad to be here.
MARTIN: So how are the search-and-rescue operations going?
METZE: They're going pretty well. We're finally getting breaks in the weather where we can get in. We're starting to see pictures and videos of our high-profile vehicles that are able to get into pretty deep water - basically, tall trucks - and get people to safety. We're starting to see a significant number of hoist operations - hoist rescues with helicopters - lowering people down to put hoists on people and pulling them up out of the water. So we're really starting to see now, you know, what we've been preparing for and trying to get in place for actually happening.
MARTIN: Do you have any idea of how many people still are waiting to be rescued? I mean, as you might imagine, you know, we're hearing from people. People - we're hearing from people on social media. Friends of people are calling and just trying to get attention for certain people in certain areas, saying that, you know, they're - people are starting to get frightened. Do you have any sense of what the scope of the rescue operation that remains to be done?
METZE: I really don't at this time. We're so focused right now on going where the need is - wherever the local and state agencies call us and tell us to go, where, you know, wherever they see that someone needs help. You know, that's our entire focus right now. What can we do to help with safety, security and protection of lives? So I am not tracking, you know, how many more there are to go. We're only focused on, what can we do right now?
MARTIN: Do you feel that the Guard was prepared for this?
METZE: Well, we've certainly prepared for episodes like this, you know, throughout our history, right? We've done joint exercises with - and interagency exercises, intergovernmental exercises, you know, coordinating with DPS and the Texas Division of Emergency Management. We've done that for years. We've had floods before. We've had tropical storms. We've had hurricanes before, although, you know, none higher than Cat 2 in recent history. You know, I don't think - but this is historic level. Right?
This is beyond anything we've seen in anyone's recent memory. So there's always an opportunity to learn from every operation and what we can do to improve. And I think we'll do that here, too. But, you know, this is what we've trained for. And, you know, we prefer not to have to use our training in an actual tragedy. But when called, you know, the men and women of the Texas Military Department are proud to be a part of, you know, Texans serving other Texans.
MARTIN: Before we let you go, this is your opportunity to offer your wish list - if I can call it that. Is there something that you need? Is there something that you don't need? Is there anything that people can do to be helpful to you right now?
METZE: The two biggest things that I would throw out there are, one, you know, your first responders are absolutely still the first line. So when you have issues, when you see things, call 911. And then they - you know, if they need help from us, it will filter up through us, and it will all follow one smooth channel. Calling us directly - it's kind of confusing too the way of the whole system - because we're set up to support them.
And then the other thing is, we've seen some drones in the area - you know, insurance companies, members of the media, people who just want to get video footage. Those drones form an actual risk to our air operations, our pilots and the people they are trying to rescue. So the FAA has put a ban on drones, and we want to make sure that that word gets out there as well.
MARTIN: That's helpful to hear, so thank you for that. That's Colonel Steven Metze. He's the public affairs officer for the Texas military operation, which is conducting search-and-rescue operations. Colonel, thanks so much for speaking with us. Good luck to you.
METZE: Thank you.
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