Air National Guard members from Long Island deployed to Texas in response to Harvey have rescued around 290 people by boat and helicopter, military officials said Tuesday evening.
Around 141 members of the 106th Rescue Wing, based in Westhampton Beach, had arrived in Texas by Tuesday evening to support rescue missions, according to Michael O’Hagan, the unit’s public affairs officer.
A medical officer will also depart for Texas on Thursday to help evacuate patients from area hospitals, according to a state news release.
“New Yorkers are no strangers to the destruction that can come at the hands of Mother Nature, and we are prepared to continue to support these efforts in any way we can,” Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said in a news release Tuesday.
Among the Long Island airmen in Texas is Ryan Dush, a 32-year-old staff sergeant from Wading River, whose rescues so far include an airlift of an extended family of nine, including a 1-month-old infant.
Dush said he led the family members from the second floor of a partially submerged house to the roof of a pickup truck, where he strapped them into harnesses that hoisted them 60 feet up to the helicopter.
“It was still very emotional grabbing a baby. It was almost terrifying for myself as a new father,” said Dush, who has a 1-year-old daughter.
The unit has been operating primarily in West Houston, and bringing those rescued to the George R. Brown Convention Center, which is serving as a shelter, Dush said.
“I’ve done plenty of combat rescues,” said Dush, who has also served in Afghanistan. “This was the first time I’d ever done something like this at home.”
O’Hagan said he did not know how long the unit would remain in Texas.
“Until we’re not needed,” he said. “Until the work is done.”