Louisiana Guard gears up for Gustav
August 29, 2008
BATON ROUGE, La. (Army News Service, Aug. 29, 2008) - The Louisiana National Guard has already activated about 3,000 troops who are monitoring and preparing for Tropical Storm Gustav, which is expected to develop into a Category 3 hurricane as it heads toward the Gulf coast.
"Our Soldiers and Airmen are staged and set to deploy to our coastal parishes without hesitation," said Maj. Gen. Bennett Landreneau, adjutant general for the Louisiana National Guard.
"Engineer and Communications Teams are reporting to coastal parishes and are set to assist our citizens and local parish emergency responders," Landreneau said. "Our security forces are deploying to ensure safety and security of homes and personnel. We are confident in our plans and ability to execute those plans on a moment's notice."
Search and Rescue assets are preparing for deployment to potential impact areas, Guard officials said. Soldiers and Airmen are also pre-positioning to support shelter security missions across the state. Guard teams are ready to support Contra Flow missions in coordination with the Louisiana State Police, officials said.
Guard Security Forces are preparing for deployment to potential impact areas, including deployment to New Orleans in support of the city's evacuation plan. The Guard is requesting additional helicopter assets with Emergency Management Assistance Compact states in preparation for potential Search and Rescue missions.
Soldiers of the Lake Charles-based 3rd Battalion, 156th Infantry Regiment, 256th Infantry Brigade Combat Team began the initial alert preparations for the possible landfall of Hurricane Gustav. The battalion, which consists of Soldiers from all over Southwest Louisiana, has prepped vehicles and equipment for the deployment to New Orleans or any other area that may be affected.
"We're ready to go wherever we need to," said Lake Charles native, 1st Sgt. Gary Burchfield of Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 3-156th Inf. Bn.
The 256th IBCT's 199th Leadership Brigade Support Battalion located in Alexandria, La., sent 2,000 gallons of water to Colfax, La. in preparation for support missions. This potentially life-saving water will be distributed to citizens if the need arises. Additionally, 160 Soldiers from the 528th and the 527th Engineer Battalions in Ruston, La., have been directed various security missions in the Jefferson Parish area and will be assigned to the Clearview evacuation site.
Two three-man engineer assessment teams from the 1023rd Engineer Company are on stand-by for possible missions in Ascension, St. James and St. Charles Parishes. "The primary function of these teams will be damage assessment," said Maj. Charles A. Hudson of West Monroe, administrative officer with the 528th.
About 30 Soldiers from the Headquarters Support Company in Monroe will assist the Louisiana State Police Department's Troop A in Baton Rouge and Troop F in Monroe in traffic control missions as the storm closes in on the coast. Six three-man boat teams from the 830th and 832nd Concrete and Asphalt Companies in Monroe have been placed on stand-by for possible damage assessment and Search and Rescue missions in potentially devastated areas.
The National Guard has also mobilized more than 100 members to act as bus drivers and provide transportation for evacuees and security to evacuation shelters throughout the state as needed.
Airmen have been activated to support operations and satellite communication in Terrebonne, Lafourche, Jefferson, Plaquemines, Saint Bernard, and Orleans Parishes to assist in first responder communications on the ground. Additional teams are ready to deploy to all other potential impacted areas along the coast, officials said.
Governor Jindal also ordered the Louisiana National Guard to be ready to deploy more than 1,500 Guardsmen to New Orleans as early as tomorrow to assist in securing the city as citizens begin to evacuate their homes.
Gustav, currently a tropical storm, is expected to make landfall as a Category 3 hurricane some time Tuesday morning along the Vermillion Bay, area according to the National Hurricane Center in Miami, Fla.
(Maj. Michael Kazmierzak and Capt. Taysha Deaton Gibbs serve with the Louisiana National Guard Public Affairs Office.)