As Hurricane Harvey rolls toward the Texas coast, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base airmen have a history of flying patients and cargo to aid disaster relief efforts after major hurricanes roiled the U.S. coastline.
Base officials indicated Friday they have not been contacted by federal authorities for help, but in past years requests have arrived after assessing storm damage.
The Air Force Reserve 445th Airlift Wing’s transport jets and aeromedical crews evacuated patients or hauled cargo after hurricanes barreled into the Gulf and East Coasts in recent years.
“… We stand ready to support relief efforts if called upon to do so as we have in the past with Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Sandy,” Lt. Col. Cynthia Harris, a unit spokeswoman, said in an email Friday.
In the biggest relief effort in recent decades, the wing flew C-141 Starlifters to evacuate more than 400 patients in New Orleans, La., and southwest Texas in September 2005 after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita struck the Gulf Coast.
Katrina, a monster storm, caused a widespread path of destruction, killing more than 1,000 people and leaving hundreds of thousands homeless in Mississippi and Louisiana. New Orleans was extensively flooded after a levee holding back water was breached.
Wright-Patterson C-141 crews flew patients out of New Orleans to Dallas-Fort Worth and Ellington Field, Texas, Dobbins Air Reserve Base, Ga., and Nashville, Tenn. And one C-141 flight flew nearly 60 mostly elderly patients, including three infants, out of Texas to Georgia to avoid the path of Hurricane Rita.
In November 2012, the Wright-Patterson wing flew 10 C-17 Globemaster III missions across the country transporting 69 patients and 685 tons of equipment and relief supplies —- including blankets, power generators and utility trucks — to aid relief efforts after Hurricane Sandy barrelled into New York and New Jersey the prior month.
The unit’s crews traveled to bases in California, Washington state, New Mexico and Arizona to haul cargo to Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J., John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City, and Stewart Air National Guard Base in New York.
Hurricane Sandy, one of the costliest storms in U.S. history, killed more than 100 people and left millions without power.
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