More than two dozen helicopters soared over parts of Galveston County on Wednesday as emergency response agencies from around the state practiced water rescues.

The training exercise was organized by the Texas Military Department, Texas A&M Task Force 1 and the Texas Department of Public Safety. The helicopters included Lakotas, Black Hawks and tandem-rotor Chinooks. The drill also included a large C-130 Hercules cargo plane.

The exercise was meant to train search and rescue teams about how to retrieve people trapped in flooded areas during a hurricane or other natural disasters.

During Hurricane Harvey in 2017, the U.S. Coast Guard performed more than 600 helicopter rescues from flooded homes and buildings around the Houston area.

Helicopters also have been used as part of the emergency response to recent flooding in Oklahoma and Nebraska.

State and federal agencies participating in the exercise included the Texas Army National Guard, the U.S. Army Reserve, the U.S. Coast Guard, Federal Aviation Administration, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Texas Department of Public Safety and the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department.

The Galveston Fire Department and Emergency Management Department, the San Antonio Police Department, the Houston Police and Fire departments also participated, as did Army National Guard helicopter teams from Florida, South Carolina and Oklahoma.

John Wayne Ferguson: 409-683-5226; or on Twitter @johnwferguson.


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