Minnesota National Guard sends 11 soldiers for Hurricane Harvey relief

- The Minnesota National Guard is sending 11 soldiers to Texas to support response efforts for Hurricane Harvey. The soldiers departed Friday from St. Cloud with two CH-47 chinook helicopters to conduct air operations in Texas.

“I am glad that Minnesota will be able to assist the victims of the terrible tragedy in Texas, with 11 Minnesota National Guard soldiers accompanying two Chinook helicopters to join in relief efforts,” Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton said in a statement. “I thank Major General Nash for his leadership, and the brave Minnesota soldiers, who will travel to Texas to provide this critical relief. I encourage all Minnesotans, who are able, to donate to the qualified relief efforts. Minnesota stands ready to assist in any way we can.”

The Minnesota National Guard’s 34th Combat Aviation Brigade supports disaster response operations by providing aviation capabilities with both UH-60 Black Hawk and CH-47 Chinook helicopters.

“We train for this type of mission and we’re glad that we can assist the people of Texas with this type of professional support,” Col. Shawn Manke, commander of the 34th Combat Aviation Brigade, said in a statement.

The Minnesota soldiers will stay as long as needed in Texas.

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The Texas Department of Public Safety said more than 37,000 homes were heavily damaged and nearly 7,000 were destroyed. Those numbers don't include the tens of thousands of other homes that sustained lesser damage. Some evacuees have started to return home Friday, but 8,000 remained in the shelter of the George R. Brown Convention Center late Thursday, and 32,000 were reported to be living in temporary shelters across Texas.

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The block-by-block search of flooded Houston homes that started Thursday is expected to be completed by Friday. Houston's fire chief said his crews had responded to nearly 16,000 calls since Harvey made landfall Saturday, with more than 7,600 of those calls for water rescues.

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