West Texans Respond to Hurricane Ike

By: Sarah Snyder
NewsWest 9

South Texans are bracing for Hurricane Ike that's expected to slam the coast Friday night or early Saturday.

Midland Memorial Hospital is home to the West Texas Medical Brigade, a team of ER, oncology, and pediatric nurses who are ready to respond when natural disaster strikes. 

NewsWest 9 spoke with one of them who's headed down to South Texas.

"You just prepare for the worst and hope for the best," Major Shirley Clifton, Texas Guard Medical Brigade, said.

Major Clifton is packing her bags. She's headed down to the Houston area to help people affected by Hurricane Ike.

"It's a little bit anxious, because you just never know where you're going to go or what you're going to do," Clifton said.

She's a part of the West Texas State Guard Medical Brigade who responds in the event of a natural disaster. With Hurricane Ike threatening South Texas, the West Texas team is ready to go.

"They are going to go out, assess the situation, get their orders from Austin, Austin is the one that gives us our orders," Clifton said. "They will put them somewhere like a special needs shelter or any other tasks or missions they might have us to do."

Four brigade members have already been sent and this weekend, six more will join them. They'll most likely set up field hospitals and help patients who've been taken out of Houston medical centers or nursing homes.

"They're already doing evacuations of large hospitals and those patients have to be moved, and someone has to take care of them," Clifton said. "The nursing staff in those hospitals is also going to be affected, so they have to get their families out and evacuate with them. So we take care of those patients. The hospitals are going to be inundated so we need to help with the relief efforts with their hospitals."

Major Clifton says she's packing a week's worth of water, food, and bedding.

"This one of course is very important because it's our home state Texas," Clifton said. "We know hurricanes can be very devastating and that's what we're here for, the Texas State Guard, the Medical Brigade is here to help out Texans in need."

NewsWest 9 talked to organizations all over the Basin on Thursday, and several other West Texas groups are on standby: the Red Cross, Odessa paramedics, several local churches, and ONCOR power are ready to send help.