CBP Focuses on Community Support as Harvey Rages On

U.S Border Patrol agent Mario Fuentes rolls the belonging of a disaster survivor to a bus to evacuate her and her dog Chester in the wake of Hurricane Harvey.
U.S Border Patrol agent Mario Fuentes rolls the belonging of a disaster survivor to a bus to evacuate her and her dog Chester in the wake of 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.

CBP Acting Commissioner Kevin McAleenan
CBP Acting Commissioner Kevin McAleenan

“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.”

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.”

Laredo Field Operation CBP Officers load their emergency response trailers to assist storm victims.
Laredo Field Operation CBP Officers load their emergency response trailers to assist storm victims.

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.

After four days, the Texas Gulf Coast still faces a significant threat from the effects of Tropical Storm Harvey.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is actively assisting state and local agencies as well as our partners within the Federal government as all seek to alleviate the impact of the storm.

A grateful disaster survivor hugs a U.S. Border Patrol agent. U.S. Border Patrol agents were part of U.S. Coast Guard emergency operation centers identifying disaster survivors in need of assistance.
A grateful disaster survivor hugs a U.S. Border Patrol agent. U.S. Border Patrol agents were part of U.S. Coast Guard emergency operation centers identifying disaster survivors in need of assistance.

“CBP personnel are working hard to help local communities in any way possible, from search-and-rescue operations to clearing debris,” CBP Lead Field Coordinator Judson W. Murdock II.

“During times of natural disasters, CBP employees selflessly go above and beyond the call of duty, which is a testament to their dedication to the safety and well-being of those in their communities and ultimately the nation as a whole.”

According to the National Hurricane Center, Tropical Storm Harvey was expected produce total rain accumulations of 15 to 30 inches and isolated maximum amounts of 40 inches over the middle and upper Texas coast through Wednesday, which has caused catastrophic flooding.

Lead Field Coordinator Judson W. Murdock II
Lead Field Coordinator Judson W. Murdock II prepares officers in advance of the storm emergency.

Fortunately, CBP had plans and preparations in place to join the local, state and federal efforts to protect life and property, respond to employee needs, and implement business resumption activities as soon as practical.

Many areas remain without electricity and a number of CBP employees have been displaced by the storm, many have sustained property damage, while others are unable to report to or leave work due to heavy flooding; however, the good news is —all CBP personnel in the affected areas have been accounted for and are safe at this time.

U.S. Border Patrol staffs the Brownsville Emergency Operations Center.
U.S. Border Patrol staffs the Brownsville Emergency Operations Center.

As always when a disaster strikes, CBP personnel and their families are a priority.

In areas hit hardest by the storm, CBP employees are assisting their fellow employees with flooded and wind damaged homes, submerged vehicles, power loss and with any other storm-related needs.

CBP personnel have also been performing welfare checks on employees and community residents as well as clearing debris.

The CBP Lead Field Coordinator command center located in Houston remains open 24/7 and is monitoring the emerging situation and coordinating CBP’s response.

In Rockport, Texas, U.S. Border Patrol agents rescued a disaster survivor who was trapped on the second floor of an extremely damaged home and traveled throughout the community assisting disaster survivors identified by the U.S. Coast Guard emergency operations center.

U.S Border Patrol agent Mario Fuentes assists Diane Market to his vehicle as he and his partner conduct search and rescue operations in the wake of Hurricane Harvey near Rockport, Texas.
U.S Border Patrol agent Mario Fuentes assists Diane Market to his vehicle as he and his partner conduct search and rescue operations in the wake of Hurricane Harvey near Rockport, Texas.

Fifty U.S. Border Patrol agents have been working in USCG Corpus Christi Sector emergency operations center located in Robstown, Texas.

“The steps CBP took to prepare for Hurricane Harvey before it arrived, helped us mitigate, as much as possible, the impact to our border security operations, our employees’ well-being and the safety of the communities we serve,” Murdock said.

“As Harvey continues to wreak havoc across the region, that preparation is allowing us to effectively assist in the areas hardest hit, and once the storm passes our plans will allow us to seamlessly transition into our recovery efforts.”