The U.S. military’s role in Harvey recovery efforts could soon expand to a larger extent, a senior National Guard officer said Tuesday, The Associated Press reports.
Air Force Major General James Witham, who is the director of domestic operations for the National Guard Bureau, said there currently are about 3,500 National Guard troops involved, including about 3,000 from the Texas National Guard. Witham estimated that the Texas guard number could rise to 8,000 to 10,000 in coming days, possibly joined by 20,000 to 30,000 from other states.
Witham said that the military is providing everything that has been requested by Texas Governor Greg Abbott, although the response is limited by the stormy weather and by flooding that restricts use of roadways.
Weather has limited the use of military helicopters over the past two or three days, which has forced the Guard to instead use boats and ground vehicles to rescue stranded residents in the Houston area.
There are about 1,000 active-duty military forces in position to provide assistance if called up by civilian authorities, he noted.
“So if you’re looking at an event that only occurs every few hundred years, the planning that would have normally occurred for that probably wasn’t here. So, in many cases, the request for assistance, not only for the National Guard but federal forces, may not have been anticipated quickly enough,” Witham stressed.