CBP Deploys Personnel and Assets after Hurricane Laura
U.S. Customs and Border Protection maintained a strong rescue and relief presence in storm-stricken areas of Louisiana since Hurricane Laura made landfall early Thursday.
Two CBP incident command centers in Houston, Texas, and Hammond, Louisiana, were opened and staffed with CBP personnel and assets to assist in response and rescue efforts.
“We stood up both of those incident command centers to provide on-the-ground oversight of what’s actually occurring, and where our assistance may be needed for both saving lives and responding to any needs that our personnel may have,” said Brian S. Hastings, Chief Patrol Agent of the Rio Grande Valley Sector Border Patrol and Lead Field Coordinator for Region VI.
CBP is no stranger to rescue and relief efforts following major natural disasters. To ensure a coordinated response, planning began long before the storm hit Louisiana.
“We start to prepare for these types of storms like Hurricane Laura about seven days out,” said Director of Field Operations—Houston, Judson W. Murdock, incident commander in Houston for Region VI.
Currently, CBP’s Air and Marine Operations has four Black Hawk helicopters and aircrews deployed to the area as a quick-response asset capable of launching quickly to perform rescue missions. A CBP-AMO P-3 Long Range Tracker crew deployed to capture critical aerial imagery of damage in the affected areas, and a P-3 Airborne Early Warning crew flew over Louisiana to provide airspace deconfliction.
“The P-3 AEW aircraft is equipped with an air search radar that helps us give air traffic advisories to relief aircraft from AMO, the U.S. Coast Guard, and the Department of Defense. This is a critical function that only an AMO P-3 can provide,” said Supervisory Air and Marine Agent Dan Jordan, National Air Security Operations Center in Corpus Christi, TX.
AMO teams were prepared to deploy once the storm formed in the Atlantic Ocean, and fine-tuned deployment plans as the storm approached and more information became available.
“In Hurricane Marco’s early stages when landfall was expected on the Texas Gulf Coast, AMO was prepared to evacuate the aircraft and operate from another location. As Marco became less of a threat, plans shifted toward providing immediate post-landfall relief for Hurricane Laura,” said Jordan.
Additionally, 14 United States Border Patrol riverine vessels were pre-deployed to an area outside of the projected path of the storm with a mix of 40 vessel commanders, Border Patrol Tactical Unit and Border Patrol Search, Trauma, and Rescue agents and stood ready to rapidly assist in any lifesaving missions.
“During Hurricane Harvey, CBP participated in over 1,400 rescues and so we continue to stand by, ready for any lifesaving mission that we are called upon to do,” said Chief Hastings.
An additional 21 volunteers, comprised of CBP officers and USBP agents, are ready deploy to Louisiana to assist as needed.
“All of our volunteers fully understand the impacts and devastation of hurricanes having lived through not only Hurricane Katrina but also Hurricane Rita so we look forward to helping our fellow citizens in the Lake Charles area,” said Director of Field Operations—New Orleans, Steven Stavinoha, and the incident commander in Hammond for Region VI.
Under the Department of Homeland Security’s National Response Framework, CBP responds to assist state, local and federal entities to provide emergency response in the aftermath of natural disasters like Hurricane Laura.
“We continue working very closely with our state and local partners embedded with fusion centers and emergency operations centers to see if there’s any need for any of our assets and any of our folks as far as rescue capabilities,” said Chief Hastings.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection is the unified border agency within the Department of Homeland Security charged with the management, control and protection of our nation's borders at and between official ports of entry. CBP is charged with securing the borders of the United States while enforcing hundreds of laws and facilitating lawful trade and travel.