An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Home : News : News
NEWS | March 18, 2010

JBSA poised for disaster relief

By Brent Boller 502nd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

When disaster strikes in Texas or neighboring states, San Antonio and its military resources are frequently called into action.

Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and Hurricanes Gustav and Ike in 2008, are stark reminders of the human and material costs inflicted by these ferocious and capricious forces of nature.

During Katrina and the 2008 hurricane season, local military bases were called upon to provide major support in evacuee and aircraft sheltering, transportation, medical care and myriad other activities. Now, Bexar County and city officials will find leveraging those resources much easier thanks to the Joint Base San Antonio structure mandated by the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure legislation.

City, county and area base representatives met last week at the San Antonio Emergency Operations Center at Brooks City-Base to receive a briefing on the procedures for requesting local military aid during natural or man-made disasters.

"Civil authorities now have one point of contact for requesting help, and that's the 502nd Air Base Wing," said Brig. Gen. Leonard Patrick, 502nd ABW commander. "In the past they had to contact each base," he said.

"This is the next logical step in how the military works with the city - it's an exciting time." General Patrick commands the support assets at Lackland Air Force Base, Randolph Air Force Base and in late April, Fort Sam Houston.

"Today's meeting was historic," the general said. "Not only did we have leaders from the 502nd ABW units on Lackland and Randolph, we also had representatives from the 59th Medical Wing, the Garrison at Fort Sam Houston, Army North and the city. I can't remember a pre-hurricane meeting here in San Antonio that was so comprehensive. We usually meet for the first time during the work up to a hurricane," he said.

District Fire Chief Nim Kidd, emergency management coordinator for the City of San Antonio, echoed the general's enthusiasm for the refined process.

"We now have one button to push when it comes to military help. I think we're finally there, the chief said.

"Knowing names and faces is a real plus."

Chief Kidd said the city's emergency operations center activates five to seven days prior to a hurricane strike and it's advantageous for the military to plug in as soon as possible.

Chief Kidd noted that hurricanes are not the only threat, but they're the most frequent. In fact, the Atlantic hurricane season officially begins on June 1. The 2010 season is more likely to resemble 2008 than the relatively benign 2009 season along the U.S. east and gulf coasts, according to and chief hurricane forecaster Joe Bastardi.

General Patrick is pleased that Joint Base San Antonio and the city are well out in front of it this year.

"Now we have a formal opportunity rather than the 'come as you are' situation we had in the past," the general said.