Two Oklahoma National Guard helicopters as well as other National Air Guard assets were in Texas readying for the possibility of Hurricane Dean hitting that state’s coast when the remnants of Tropical Storm Erin hit Oklahoma, state emergency and military officials said today.
Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management spokeswoman Michelann Ooten said two Oklahoma National Guard Helicopters with a pulley lift capability were unable to respond in time for the disaster.
“We had two helicopters that have that capability and they were out of state,” Ooten said. “It takes a number of hours to get the flight crews together and activated. It takes a minimum of three or four hours to get a helicopter in the air, whether it’s fires, rescues, or flooding it’s the same situation.”
Oklahoma National Guard spokesman Col. Pat Scully said the helicopters were in Texas as part of the Emergency Management Assistance Compact, an agreement between the National Guard units of several area states to share emergency response assets.
“Those two aircraft are in Texas waiting for the hurricane that’s in the Gulf. We have plenty of aviation assets in the state of Oklahoma but the ones with the lift capability are in Texas,” Scully said.