Iowa National Guard Prepares for Possible Hurricane Harvey Support Trip

JOHNSTON, Iowa  --   As the flooding continues to worsen in Houston, Texas, agencies around the country are looking for ways to help.

“It’s devastating to see what’s happening with the people of Houston. The Iowa National Guard stands ready to help whenever called,” said Col. Greg Hapgood of the Iowa National Guard.

Col. Hapgood said the call hasn’t come in yet, but as the water continues to rise, so will the likelihood that the Iowa National Guard will be going to Houston. Surrounding states like Nebraska have already sent National Guard assistance. 

Hapgood said the unit here is specially trained to handle flooding, and responded to toppling Iowa flood stages in 2008, 2011, and 2016. Hapgood was also part of the Iowa team that helped during Hurricane Katrina, and he can’t help but think of that when he sees what’s currently happening in Houston. 

“It’s a huge amount of destruction with huge amounts of water. Huge amounts of wind that just destroy and leave debris for miles. So the scope of it what is pretty striking about it,” he said. 

Once they get the call, Hapgood said the unit can be there and operating within 24 hours. He doesn’t know exactly what is needed, but he has had early calls with officials about how they can help.

“Aviation assets would probably be one of those that would be significant. Transportation assets, big trucks and trailers, etc. would probably be another pretty commonly called for in these situations." 

As far as a timeline goes, he isn’t sure when the call will come in. Members of the guard here are on notice, and know they could be called on and need to leave pretty quickly. If deployed, units can expect to be there for at least five days and up to a couple weeks.