Hurricane Air Evacuation Drill in Texas | NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth

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Hurricane Air Evacuation Drill in Texas



    A hurricane drill in Texas helps first responders practice emergency evacuation protocol at big Texas airports as hurricane season approaches.

    A mock storm dubbed Hurricane Tejas reached Texas, in theory, on Wednesday as part of an air-emergency evacuation practice run at some of the state's larger airports.

    The air and ground drills are a chance to practice and evaluate plans for evacuating and sheltering people -- some with medical issues -- in the event of severe weather, according to Trooper Robbie Barrera of the Texas Department of Public Safety.

    "Exercise only, this is not a real scenario. It is for training purposes," Barrera said about the 2016 Rio Grande Valley evacuation exercise, which runs through Thursday and is set up to mimic a situation in which 1 million South Texas residents would need to be evacuated.

    The drill involves Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, Dallas' Love Field, Austin-Bergstrom International Airport and Kelly Field Airport in San Antonio, Barrera said.

    Valley International Airport in Harlingen was a departure point for about 300 volunteer evacuees, according to a DPS statement. A Texas Air National Guard C-130 was being used to transport individuals, who will be returned to South Texas on Thursday to simulate repopulation of targeted areas.

    Most regular travelers will not be aware of the disaster drill because the exercise involves areas of the airports where there is no commercial traffic, Barrera said.

    A statement from the city of Fort Worth said an aircraft from the Rio Grande Valley transporting volunteers would head for DFW airport.

    "The evacuees will be deplaned and transported by bus to shelters," the statement said.

    Fort Worth's role will be to shelter up to 100 of the mock evacuees at a community center, with assistance from police and other emergency management personnel.

    The preparations are being made in the wake of past hurricanes that have affected Texas, like Hurricane Rita, which roared ashore near the Texas-Louisiana line in September 2005 and sparked a chaotic evacuation of the Houston area, or Hurricane Ike, which devastated Galveston in 2008 and forced thousands of residents to flee.

    The Atlantic hurricane season opened June 1 and runs through November.

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