Buckley welcomes Katrina evacuees to dry ground
A cooperative effort between Buckley Air Force Base units and local, state and national government and relief agency authorities brought planes carrying Hurricane Katrina evacuees to the base today


By 1st Lt. Caroline Wellman, 460th Space Wing Public Affairs
Posted Monday, September 5, 2005

  
Buckley welcomes Katrina evacuees to dry ground
Buckley Air Force Base, Colo. – Passengers from New Orleans are assisted off an aircraft and directed to buses here today. Evacuees were transported to lodging facilities at the former Lowry AFB, Colo. where they were processed to receive food and shelter. Emergency medical teams, base Security Forces members and Aurora police were also among those called out to support the reception of 125 evacuees. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Anika K Williams)


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BUCKLEY AFB, COLO. -- A cooperative effort between Buckley Air Force Base units and local, state and national government and relief agency authorities brought planes carrying Hurricane Katrina evacuees to the base today.

The evacuees are being housed at the former Lowry Air Force Base.

The first plane arrived at 10 a.m. with 125 passengers. Additional flights are scheduled to arrive later today, and possibly into tomorrow.

Welcomed to dry ground and new city by a team of emergency response personnel from the city of Aurora, Arapahoe County, the 460th Space Wing and the 140th Wing, evacuees looked relieved as they stepped off the plane.

Not on the ground for long at Buckley, the evacuees were transported to Lowry by Denver Regional Transportation District buses.

“I saw lots of smiles as the people got off [the planes],” said Col. David Ziegler, 460th Space Wing commander, when asked how he thought the difference between New Orleans and Denver would affect the evacuees. “I don’t think they’re thinking ‘Denver,’ or ‘Colorado.’ I think they’re thinking ‘America.’”

Officials were uncertain as to the number of evacuees who would be arriving, although they estimated Lowry would become home to nearly 1,000 hurricane victims.

“We don’t know exactly how many are scheduled to arrive,” Col. Ziegler said. “It’s very fluid. We don’t know exactly when the flights are coming in or how many people will be on them, but we’re here to help in anyway we can.”

The Team Buckley effort over the weekend was the latest in a string of Hurricane Katrina relief-efforts by the base since the hurricane made landfall along the Gulf of Mexico coast Aug. 29.

The Colorado National Guard mobilized a team of eight people from the National Guard Communications element Aug. 30, for an initial 10 to 14 days. The team, headquartered at Buckley, was tasked to provide communications support and to assist local authorities in Mississippi.

The Colorado National Guard’s 140th Services Flight “Ninja Cooks” deployed 21 members Saturday (Sept. 3), to provide food services, lodging assistance and mortuary affairs services.

The services flight, headquartered at Buckley, has been asked to command the services operations for the incident command center. The unit will mobilize to Gulfport, Miss.


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