El Paso

Some El Paso emergency responders deploy to assist with Hurricane Harvey

Some El Paso emergency responders...

EL PASO, Texas - Hundreds of emergency responders are mobilizing across Texas --and the country-- to help residents in the path of Hurricane Harvey.

Most agencies ABC-7 spoke with are monitoring the massive storm but so far, few have been deployed or called out to assist.

The first to go out was CBP Air and Marine.

"CBP Air and Marine in El Paso is also standing by," Customs and Border Patrol Air & Marine Spokesman Doug Mosier told ABC-7 early Friday morning. By 10 a.m., they received the call to deploy and a few hours later, the crews had boarded two helicopters and were on their way to the Gulf area. More could follow.

CBP Air and Marine employs approximately 1,800 federal agents across the country, according to its website. Its mission is to help guard the borders, stop incursions but often participate in disaster relief, humanitarian and search and rescue operations.

"We tell our folks to prepare for seven days and to be ready to assist," Rodolofo Maldonado said.

Maldonado is the director of operations for CBP Air and Marine's El Paso branch.

Three nurses with Del Sol Medical Center also traveled to San Antonio Friday afternoon. They are Neo-Natal Intensive Care Unit, or NICU Nurses, and will be caring for fragile babies who have been evacuated from hospitals in Harvey's path.

ABC-7 also reached out to the El Paso Red Cross.

"We have over 400 volunteers and staff that have already been deployed and are in Houston -- Corpus Christi --San Antonio and Austin right now," David Chayer said.

Chayer, executive director of El Paso's Red Cross tells ABC-7 it's not just staff that has been sent out to the affected area

 "We have enough cots in the area to provide shelter for 20,000 people," Chayer said.

Chayer also tells ABC-7 Las Cruces will also be sending a disaster response vehicle.

 "Each of these response vehicles can provide hot meals through out the day. They can also provide hygienic supplies," Chayer said.

Most other agencies are watching and waiting.

"DPS is sending resources from across the state (including El Paso) to assist with any hurricane related duties as needed," said Sgt. Moises Vasquez with the Department of Public Safety. Lt. Elizabeth Barney Carter added, "We have DPS personnel from El Paso staged and ready to respond to potential affected areas."

The Office of Emergency Management has not been called upon to assist. "They are monitoring the situation and are in contact with the state OEM office," said spokesman Carlos Briano.

A Ft. Bliss spokesman indicated they, too are monitoring changes in the storm and its impact, but have not been called out. "Right now there is no one mobilized or planning to mobilize through here," said Mike Brantley, a post spokesman. "Of course that could change as the day and weekend goes on."

Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center said so far, their doctors have not been called out. Dr. Ed Michelson with the Emergency Medicine Department said few -- if any-- doctors in West Texas are part of the National Disaster Medical Response or DMAT team as the area is already underserved. He explained DMAT teams from far away areas are often activated so as to not stress response teams that are near the areas affected by a disaster. Those, even if they're 200 miles away or beyond, may be dealing with evacuees and have their resources tested, too.

Governor Greg Abbott has requested a Presidential Disaster Declaration for 30 counties.

"The state is expected to see life-threatening and record-setting flooding from rain and storm surge in areas hardest hit by Harvey," read a news release from the governor's office.

If granted, the request would  provide Individual Assistance, Public Assistance and Hazard Mitigation to Texas counties in the affected areas. 

Stay with ABC-7 as we continue monitoring the path of Hurricane Harvey and its impact.

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