Cherokee Nation assists in Hurricane Harvey relief efforts

August 29, 2017

(L-R) Cherokee Nation Marshal Shannon Buhl, Deputy Marshal John Timothy, Deputy Marshal Kevin Jackson, Deputy Marshal Dustin Davis, Deputy Marshal Kolton Holmes, Deputy Marshal Preston Oosahwee, Deputy Chief S. Joe Crittenden, Principal Chief Bill John Baker, Secretary of State Chuck Hoskin Jr., Sgt. John Wofford, Deputy Marshal Matt Laney, and Lt. Joe Rainwater.(L-R) Cherokee Nation Marshal Shannon Buhl, Deputy Marshal John Timothy, Deputy Marshal Kevin Jackson, Deputy Marshal Dustin Davis, Deputy Marshal Kolton Holmes, Deputy Marshal Preston Oosahwee, Deputy Chief S. Joe Crittenden, Principal Chief Bill John Baker, Secretary of State Chuck Hoskin Jr., Sgt. John Wofford, Deputy Marshal Matt Laney, and Lt. Joe Rainwater.

Swift water rescue team, emergency management personnel dispatched

TAHLEQUAH, Okla. — Cherokee Nation marshals set out with seven vehicles, two rescue boats and a trailer full of ATVs on Tuesday to assist in the location and rescue of Hurricane Harvey victims in south Texas.

The tribe sent a 10-member swift water rescue team from the Marshal Service, and on Sunday a crew from the Cherokee Nation Emergency Management department will transport the tribe’s mobile command center to oversee a distribution supply center. Cherokee Nation Businesses, the tribe’s business arm, donated $15,000 to the American Red Cross to help with hurricane disaster relief.

“When our country goes through a crisis, the Cherokee Nation, like all citizens, wants to be on the frontlines to help,” said Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker. “We’ll always share our resources, which includes highly trained responders, to lend a hand to our neighbors in need, including the thousands of Cherokee Nation citizens in south Texas.”

Cherokee Nation has more than 3,000 citizens in the greater Houston area and about 1,000 citizens in San Antonio.

Cherokee Nation’s Emergency Management Director Jeremie Fisher is helping coordinate the tribe’s relief efforts after the state of Oklahoma asked for assistance on Monday.

“There are still people stranded on rooftops and on cars, and rain is still falling. Many Louisiana rescue teams are pulling out of Texas to go back to their communities since they are in the path of the tropical storm,” Fisher said. “We have a community base in Texas, and we want to be proactive in lending our resources in every way.”

The Marshal Service swift water rescue team will stage at the AT&T Center in San Antonio for briefing and further assignment. They will be assigned to locate and rescue residents for at least seven days and could be deployed as long as two weeks.

The marshals’ dive team, swift water rescue team and special operations team also helped in other disaster zones, such as the EF-5 Joplin tornado of 2011 and historic Illinois River flooding, and 12 years ago to the day they left for Houston, they were dispatched to Hurricane Katrina relief efforts.

“I thought Katrina would be my last hurricane rescue assignment, so this brings about mixed emotions,” said Sgt. Danny Tanner. “We’re going in to do what we are trained to do, help families and the people of Texas.”

Four Indian Health Service Commissioned Corps officers who work for Cherokee Nation Health Services are also on the ground in Texas treating displaced or injured residents.

“I commend our expert staff for jumping into action and being so willing to serve their tribe and their country in the wake of this unfolding national tragedy,” Secretary of State Chuck Hoskin Jr. said. “Cherokee Nation citizens are resilient in the face of trouble, and I’m convinced those affected in Texas will pull together and come out stronger as a result.”