Ohio mobilizes assets to respond to Texas hurricane

With the Hurricane Harvey remnants still ravaging southeast Texas and specifically the Houston area, Ohio will almost certainly have a role in assisting during the emergency.

In fact, that role’s throttle has all ready been engaged and is expected to pick up tempo shortly.

Assets associated with the U.S. Coast Guard’s Ninth District – which covers the entire Great Lakes region and is headquartered in Cleveland – were within the past few days deployed to the Houston area.

And FEMA/federally activated units based in Ohio likewise are now in Texas while aid backed by the Ohio Emergency Management Agency was requested by late afternoon, Aug. 28.

Additional assets are almost certainly to be requested once Texas has a more clear picture of what has happened and what is needed with the situation still recoiling from massive storm damage and continuing torrential rains, said an Ohio EMA spokeswoman.

Similarly, even a Geauga County-based no-kill animal shelter anticipates a rippling effect of caring for abandoned dogs and cats, all related to the impact of Hurricane Harvey.

“We’ve sent two Dolphin helicopters from Wisconsin and four air-boats – including one from our Station Marblehead that is typically used for ice rescue operations on Lake Erie,” said Petty Officer Brian McCrum, spokesman for the Coast Guard’s Ninth District office.

McCrumm said the Ninth District has also deployed about 40 of its personnel to the Houston area, with about one-quarter coming from the Cleveland area.

Kelly Blackwell, spokeswoman for the Ohio EMA, said late Monday afternoon (Aug. 28) that her agency was just handed a request by Texas for a wide-range of assets, chiefly search-and-rescue/life-saving watercraft and trained watercraft officers as well as portable generators, satellite telephones, and such heavy equipment as bulldozers.

Blackwell said that the watercraft and officers will be pulled from the Ohio DNR’s Division of Parks and Watercraft.

That agency will respond accordingly to any Ohio EMA request, said Natural Resources Department spokesman Matt Eiselstein, who added that the last time the agency sent teams out-of-state to assist in rescue and recovery operations was in 2008 for Hurricane Ike.

Blackwell said Ohio and Texas are part of a national/state emergency management compact that provides assistance as needed. This compact is activated through electronic communications as a state puts out a request for specific aid.

“And it’s expected that we’ll be asked to provide specialized staffing such as those in communication,” Blackwell said.

Yet even weeks and months after Hurricane Harvey has disappeared, the storm will leave a footprint that will require Ohio intervention, though of a rather unusual nature.

Geauga County-based Rescue Village – a component of the Geauga County Humane Society and a no-kill all-animals shelter – expects that in coming days it will take on dogs and cats that will need adopting.

However, these canines and kitties will less likely come directly from the Houston area, more likely arriving from shelters in neighboring communities. That’s because the dogs and cats living in those shelters have already been passed over for adoption, but room will be necessary to accommodate an almost guaranteed influx of pets displaced by Hurricane Harvey, said DeeDee Bondra, Rescue Village’s volunteer coordinator.

“It will be a lot easier to reunite a displaced pet with its owner if the dog or cat is close by instead of it being taken to Northeast Ohio,” Bondra said.

Categories: Ohio – Jeffrey Frischkorn

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