WESLACO, TX (KVEO NEWSCENTER 23) — The Texas Army National Guard is setting up shop at the Weslaco Airport.
Its air support unit trains in different parts of the state every year. This year the Guard is in the Valley.
"The training and the fact that they're able to come down and help us is great," Hidalgo County emergency management coordinator Oscar Montoya said. "As you know, hurricane season is coming."
The National Guard will practice search and rescue operations all next week. The helicopters it uses can drop water on fires, lift bodies from trouble and spot people from miles away.
"The training is designed for us to support the community," Captain Brian Burgi of the Texas Army National Guard said. "Ultimately we're here to better our skills at disaster relief, to make sure that if there's a real disaster... we can respond to it without hesitation."
But the Guard can't do it by itself. It needs help from local first responders. And the helicopters are the only ones in the Army that can talk to local first responders directly.
"It melds us into a joint response force," Burgi said. "So that when a disaster occurs, it's not just the Army coming in to respond and I guess save the day... Without communication, there's chaos, there's misunderstanding, there's delayed response."
Officials from Hidalgo County are more than happy to get on the same page.