Hammond, La. - As soon as Hurricane Isaac gave way to the sun appearing in the horizon two Office of Air and Marine UH-60 Blackhawks and one A-Star helicopter landed at the New Orleans Air and Marine Branch, August 31, a mere two days after the storm was categorized as a hurricane.
While nearly all the ports in the impact area have since resumed operations, the helicopters and their crews were sent up to survey the aftermath. The crews arrived from the Houston and Miami Air and Marine Branches.
"The unique capabilities of CBP Blackhawk teams are critical when a natural disaster strikes," said Francisco "Chi-Chi" Rodriguez, Director of the New Orleans Air and Marine Branch. "Equipped with state-of-the art technologies, the UH-60s are an enormous aerial resource that allows CBP to effectively respond to special emergency operations and missions."
Their first assignment was to conduct aerial surveys on CBP critical infrastructure in the gulf region after the 16 inches of rain that Hurricane Isaac dumped in some areas, made ground transportation to remote facilities impossible.
Accompanying their mission was Port of New Orleans Assistant Port Director Mark Choina, who was able to survey the full impact of the ground assessments. "The aerial survey helped ensure that our resumption of operations is safely and effectively implemented," Choina said.
This joint Office Air and Marine and Field Operations mission included assessments of the worst hit areas.
Rodriguez expressed his appreciation for the support provided by the Miami and Houston Air and Marine Branches and to every flight crew member. "Each one executed their mission safely and professionally," Rodriguez said. "Also, we are very appreciative of both the Miami and Houston directors of Air Operations who were exceptionally supportive and flexible."
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 the official ports of entry. CBP is charged with keeping terrorists and terrorist weapons out of the country while enforcing hundreds of U.S. laws.