Amid Hurricane Harvey relief efforts, the Texas National Guard, among many others, have been activated and are using Sam Houston State University’s own Johnson Coliseum as a base of operations.
SHSU has been hosting roughly 350 military members a day from various areas since Aug. 30.
“It’s good to see Sam Houston standing up with us to help out Texans in need,” SHSU alum and chaplain of the 72nd brigade Steven Missick said. “Of course, this is a big disaster. It’s good to see people come together and it’s good to see that when we have a crisis like this Sam Houston State University is standing up and helping out in the challenge.”
The Army National Guard has transformed Johnson Coliseum into a logistical support area (LSA) to facilitate moving more troops into the Gulf Coast region. An LSA acts as a depot, barracks and transportation hub, providing supplies and personnel to facilities closer to or within areas of conflict.
Although Hurricane Harvey has moved on and the water is receding, the aftermath from the catastrophic storm is still being felt. Beaumont specifically is in bad shape and thousands of people are in need of essential supplies, such as blankets and water.
Clarence Henderson, commander of the 72nd infantry brigade combat team, said the Texas National Guard setup an LSA in the coliseum to aid the demand and help other out of state troops get into the affected area. Most of Texas’s troops were impacted by the storm, therefore they called out to other states for assistance.
“I’ve got over a thousand soldiers committed to the response,” Henderson said. “Most are in Beaumont right now. My headquarters is in Houston so most of my soldiers were impacted by the storm… it has taken me until now to rebuild my strength and my headquarters because of the impact of the storm.”
“Recognizing that a lot of the troops in Texas were effected, the decision was made to bring in troops from out of state.” Henderson added.
More than a thousand soldiers from the Arkansas National Guard were sent to Huntsville over a three-day period. The soldiers traveled over 440 miles from Fort Chaffee to assist with relief efforts in Southeast Texas. The first unit arrived on Sept. 3.
“I know the need that’s down there and what we can do. I know Texas really appreciates it,” said 39th infantry brigade combat team executive officer Lt. Col. Joel Lynch.
Once the soldiers arrive at the coliseum, they will refuel, receive three days’ worth of food and rest for one night before hitting the road to help with relief.
“They come here and we refit them,” Henderson said. “Then they’ll head into what will probably be Beaumont but we don’t make that determination. We have a joint task force in Houston that will determine where they’ll go.”
According to Cmdr. Henderson, no decision has been made yet on when the LSA operation will end.
President Hoyt welcomed Bearkats back from a short recess due to the flooding with a letter of thanks and gratitude.
“Harvey’s impact was felt throughout our community, but so was the Bearkat response,” Hoyt said. “This last week, we have witnessed acts of kindness and compassion that should make us all proud to wear orange.”