When a major storm devastated Houston, Texas, the veteran-run emergency response team, Team Rubicon, deployed to provide immediate relief.
The April 17 storm led to severe flooding and impacted thousands of residents. As of late April, first responders performed more than 1,200 flood rescues, according to CNN.
The team’s effort, called “Operation Moonshot,” is made up of 50 active-duty service members and veterans who have logged 1,272 relief hours across Houston so far.
“I actually went down there at the beginning,” Army veteran and team member Cristina Cline told Task & Purpose. “The first day, we drove all over Houston looking through the neighborhoods that were the worst hit.”
She, along with the other members of Team Rubicon, spent time going door to door talking to homeowners and assessing damage.
After the initial phase, the team then began helping the community rebuild. The residents are resilient, taking the process in stride, Cline said.
“A lot of areas are starting to come on the up,” Cline added. “But [the residents] are all really overwhelmed and tired. Most of their homes got flooded, and they were still feeling very overwhelmed and very emotional.”
Veterans like Cline say that many of the people they help are surprised that veterans, who they feel have given so much, are still willing to sacrifice their time to serve the community.
“It’s kind of ridiculous to us because if we felt like we had given enough, we wouldn’t be here doing what we’re doing,” she added.
Still, they are happy to have Team Rubicon on their side. The organization, which was founded in 2010 following the devastating earthquake in Haiti, provides disaster relief to areas affected by natural disasters, both domestic and international.
“There’s always somebody that needs help,” Cline said. “People are appreciative of help any way they can get it.”
While some parts of Houston are well on their way to recovery, others face more flooding as Cypress Creek, in the northwest region of Houston, continues to rise.
In order to provide continued relief, Team Rubicon plans to stay in Houston until mid-May.
An aerial view of the Pentagon building in Washington, June 15, 2005. U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld defended the Guantanamo prison against critics who want it closed by saying U.S. taxpayers have a big financial stake in it and no other facility could replace it at a Pentagon briefing on Tuesday. (Reuters/Jason Reed JIR/CN)
The Pentagon is sending nearly 1,000 more troops to the Middle East as part of an escalating crisis with Iran that defense officials are struggling to explain.
The Marine lieutenant colonel removed from command of the 1st Reconnaissance Battalion in May was ousted over alleged "misconduct" but has not been charged with a crime, Task & Purpose has learned.
Lt. Col. Francisco Zavala, 42, who was removed from his post by the commanding general of 1st Marine Division on May 7, has since been reassigned to the command element of 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, and a decision on whether he will be charged is "still pending," MEF spokeswoman 1st Lt. Virginia Burger told Task & Purpose last week.
"We are not aware of any ongoing or additional investigations of Lt. Col. Zavala at this time," MEF spokesman 2nd Lt. Brian Tuthill told Task & Purpose on Monday. "The command investigation was closed May 14 and the alleged misconduct concerns Articles 128 and 133 of the UCMJ," Tuthill added, mentioning offenses under military law that deal with assault and conduct unbecoming an officer and gentleman.
"There is a period of due process afforded the accused and he is presumed innocent until proven guilty," he said.
When asked for an explanation for the delay, MEF officials directed Task & Purpose to contact 1st Marine Division officials, who did not respond before deadline.
The investigation of Zavala, completed on May 3 and released to Task & Purpose in response to a Freedom of Information Act request, showed that he had allegedly acted inappropriately. The report also confirmed some details of his wife's account of alleged domestic violence that Task & Purpose first reported last month.