CBP Readies for Hurricane Harvey
When warnings of a possible hurricane began to air on national television, many U.S. Customs and Border Protection components in the affected area, Region VI, began implementing their emergency management procedures.
Acting CBP Commissioner Kevin McAleenan designated Houston Field Office (HFO) Director of Field Operations as the agency’s Lead Field Coordinator (LFC) to direct the effort to manage the agency’s response during the hurricane.
“As the lead field coordinator, I have the unique opportunity to see how well the various CBP components come together to ensure the safety of CBP employees and the safeguarding of facilities and assets,” said LFC Judson W. Murdock II. “During this incident, the safety of our employees and their families impacted by the storm has been our highest priority while we continue to carry out our border security mission. Our employees have been working 24 hours to ensure they are ready to respond to rescue and recovery missions.”
Employee accountability was a top priority as components reported that more than 70 CBP employees in affected Texas counties followed evacuation orders and moved to safety. In anticipation of the storm, Rio Grande Valley Sector moved critical resources, such as horses, to secure facilities inland, riverine assets moved to stations in the upper Rio Grande Valley, valuable surveillance equipment stowed and assisted with temporarily evacuating personnel to non-impacted areas.
“The dedicated men and women of the United States Border Patrol have been working around the clock in preparation for this storm,” said Chief Patrol Agent Manuel Padilla, Jr. “As the Border Patrol remains committed to its primary mission of border security, we are dedicating first responders and assets to provide any assistance as requested through established protocols by our federal, state and local partners in order to assist the communities affected by Hurricane Harvey.”
In Laredo Texas, Office of Field Operations and Laredo Sector Border Patrol implemented their emergency response plans in order to render assistance as needed to locations impacted by Hurricane Harvey. Among the measures undertaken by CBP in Laredo included loading of emergency response trailers, activation of CBP’s local Special Response Team (SRT), topping off of response vehicle fuel tanks, checking and loading of generators and activation of phone trees to fully account for all of their employees.
“Our CBP employees, both uniformed and non-uniformed, stand ready to deploy in strike teams to help CBP employees that may be impacted by the storm to make sure their homes and families are safe and secure and so that CBP operations can be restored as soon as weather conditions permit,” said Director, Field Operations David P. Higgerson, Laredo Field Office.
As Hurricane Harvey moved in quickly Friday night, the components staffed emergency operations center and staged personnel and equipment at various CBP locations just outside of the storm’s path ready to initiate response and recovery operations. Response and recovery includes operational assets at the ready to resume international travel and trade facilitation to the impacted areas as soon as practical.