Brian Hastings

On the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol Relief Support for Hurricane Laura

released 27 August 2020

Audio AR-XE mp3 of Address


[AUTHENTICITY CERTIFIED: Text version below transcribed directly from audio]

Good morning. My name is Brian Hastings, Chief Patrol Agent, Rio Grande Valley. I just wanted to take a few minutes and provide a -- a situational update and awareness as to the planning and the response for Hurricane Laura.

We stood up the Lead Field Coordinator position two days ago in order to plan and be prepared for this event. Along with that came the standing up of two incident command centers -- one in Houston, Texas, and the other in New Orleans.

We stood up both of those incident commands to be able to give on-the- ground oversight of what's actually occurring and -- and where our assistance may be needed for both saving lives and responding to our -- any needs that our personnel may have.

Along with that -- the deployment so far -- Air and Marine Operations has deployed four [Black Hawk] helicopters up to the area to be able to respond and have quick capability to get into the air very fast and do rescue missions, like they have so many times before.

CBP Air and Marine Operations aircrews arrive in Louisiana, on August 26, 2020, ahead of Hurricane Laura making landfall. The aircrews are staging in preparation for possible search and rescue operations. CBP photo by Ozzy Trevino.

Along with that, they provided a P-3 aircraft,1 which has given us great situational awareness on the ground of where the flooding and the damage has occurred.

Border Patrol so far, RGV [Rio Grande Valley], has deployed last night at eight o'clock. We deployed 40 agents, a mix of riverine [maritime] vessel commanders, BORTAC [Border Patrol Tactical Unit] and BORSTAR [Border Patrol Search, Trauma, and Rescue], along with 14 vessels to be able to perform any life-saving missions, again, like we've done so many times in the past.

This has been a very -- a very well-planned, well-thought-out operation. We've had involvements from, as I said, every component out there, the Office of Field Operations serving in...several roles.

But they've been -- they have been involved in incident planning so many times before. DFO [Director of Field Operations] [Judson W.] Murdock, as the incident Commander in -- up in Houston; and Mr. [Steven] Stavinoha, DFO Stavinoha, involved as the incident commander in New Orleans, providing that on-the-ground oversight of what's going on, and accountability to make sure that all of our agents were safe.

So we continue working very closely with our state and local partners embedded with fusion centers and emergency operation centers today to see if there's any need for any of our assets and any of our folks as far as rescue capabilities..

So far, we're very pleased to hear, we're very happy to hear that the storm doesn't appear to be near[ly] as -- as destructive as what we had originally heard, as far as the water levels. So far, all of our folks, all of our CBP employees, are accounted for -- and that's -- that's very good news. We're glad to hear that.

But we continue to make these assessments throughout the day, working closely with our state, federal, local partners to make sure that none of our rescue capabilities are needed..

But we've done this so many times before, in so many instances. During Hurricane Harvey, CBP participated in over 1400 rescues, and so we stood by and standby -- continue to standby, ready for any mission, any life-saving mission that we're called upon to do.

So I just wanted to take a quick minute. That's the updates that we have so far. We'll continue working closely with our state, local, and federal partners. But an outstanding CBP response and very thankful for all our partners that came together to -- to make this happen and make this seamless.

Thank you..

1 CBP AMO P-3 Orion AEW (Airborn Early Warning)

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