Criminal Justice News

Thursday, July 05, 2012

Carrizo Springs Border Patrol Agents Respond in Aftermath of Severe Weather

Microburst Knocks Out Power, Damages Homes and Businesses

Del Rio, Texas – In the early morning hours of June 27 the town of Carrizo Springs was rocked by what many first believed to be a tornado. County work crews and emergency responders quickly scrambled to assess the damage as the town sat crippled by a power outage that consumed the entire city. Agents from the Carrizo Springs Border Patrol Station were quickly assembled and deployed into the town to assist Dimmit County deputies and constables with barricading unsafe roadways, diverting traffic and locating citizens in need of aid.

As dawn broke, the effects of what meteorologists have categorized as a microburst - which is a localized column of sinking air, producing damaging divergent and straight-line winds at the surface of the earth - could be seen throughout the community. Trees were uprooted, power poles snapped in half and entire roofs lay crumbled in the streets. Businesses in downtown reported broken windows, some significant structural damage and others found merchandise lying in the streets.

As is now typical in Carrizo Springs, roadways quickly began to congest with early morning oilfield and commuter traffic. Every traffic light in town was inoperative, debris littered the roads and local community leaders organized to discuss how their small work force would react to the crisis. As they took to the streets they found Border Patrol agents already in place to assist local deputies with traffic at every major intersection and manning barricades at roads riddled with large debris and live downed power lines. Border Patrol deployment allowed sheriff’s deputies to mobilize for emergency call outs and continue searching for any citizens that may have been in distress.

An Emergency Operations Center, where local and emergency officials gathered to coordinate efforts, was activated and a Regional Mobile Response Command trailer, under the direction of the Middle Rio Grande Development Council- Homeland Security Department, was deployed to allow interagency communications. The Integrated Frontline Resources Alliance Campaign (which is an interactive partnership between Federal, State and Local Law Enforcement, Private Industry Leaders and Petroleum Industry Executives working together to ensure the safety of those who live, work, transit or conduct business operations in the region) initiated a call tree to contact partners for collection and dissemination of pertinent information. For many involved this was the first opportunity to see the efforts of the IFRAC initiative come together and react to a real-life scenario in the interest of public safety.

Temperatures continued to climb near 100 degrees as electrical services could not be restored and emergency generator services remained nonfunctional at the local hospital and nursing home. Local officials then began preparations to evacuate patients and transport them to emergency shelters. With the assistance of IFRAC partner Chesapeake Energy Corporation, mechanics from NOMAC Drilling Company arrived at the hospital and promptly repaired the emergency generator system. The commitment to the community by these companies spared many fragile individuals from having to be exposed to unneeded discomfort and a potentially life-threatening move to a non-sterilize environment.

Electrical services were reportedly restored to all but a handful of residents by late afternoon. However, to ensure the safety and well being of all, sheriff’s deputies, constables, and Border Patrol agents again took to the streets and conducted public broadcast announcements via vehicle public address systems in an attempt to locate anyone still in need of assistance or medical treatment.

As a result of the collaborating efforts of all the agencies involved, the community of Carrizo Springs reported no injuries, illnesses or deaths. All roadways were cleared of debris and barricades removed by the end of the day. Although emergency shelters remained opened throughout the evening, there were no residents reported to need lodging, and all public works systems were fully functional by the end of the day.

County Judge Frank Ponce stated, “I want to thank the agents of the U.S. Border Patrol for their assistance. They were the first ones to respond and have been here the entire time. You guys have never let us down, not once.”

U.S. Customs and Border Protection is the unified border agency within the Department of Homeland Security charged with the management, control and protection of our nation's borders at and between official ports of entry. CBP is charged with keeping terrorists and terrorist weapons out of the country while enforcing hundreds of U.S. laws.

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