By Staff Sgt. Christopher VannOctober 13, 2018
MEXICO BEACH, Fla.- Florida Gov. Rick Scott toured Florida's panhandle to assess the damage firsthand and speak with the residents to ensure them that help is on the way, Oct. 12, 2018.
Hurricane Michael unleashed its fury on the panhandle Oct. 10. as winds reached 155 MPH, and wave surges were reported to be over 20 ft. in what has been called one of the worst hurricanes in recent history.
After issuing a state of emergency on Oct. 7, Scott authorized the activation of over 3,500 Florida National Guard personnel to manage logistics, search and rescue, route reconnaissance and security, alongside over 1,000 rescue workers and emergency agencies in recovery and relief efforts.
One of the units responsible for providing relief efforts is 1st Squadron of the 153rd Cavalry Regiment, headquartered in Panama City, Florida. Given the close proximity of the hurricane damage, there is a vested interest in the recovery that they normally provide.
"Last year's hurricane was more widespread," said Cpt. Jacob Wielock, Charlie Troop commander, 1-153rd CAV. "This one was right in our own backyard. A lot of my Soldiers live in the impact area- in these communities. Their heads are in the game, but at the same time, they're thinking about their loved ones."
With their friends and families in the back of their minds, they remain committed to mission first: providing help to the residents of Florida.
"We're looking forward to begin recovery," said Wielock. "Right now we're starting to see the transition from search and rescue, to focusing on assets, such as points of distribution (PODs) which are an encouraging sign to the population that leads to local governments taking full control and becoming more self-reliant."
Lt. Col. Jason Hunt, commander of the 1-153rd CAV, expressed his unit's readiness in this time of need.
"We get better with every hurricane, unfortunately," said Hunt. "This year, we got here early. We were in the communities within hours."
While the road to recovery won't be without its obstacles, the 153rd CAV remain optimistic.
"The best part is seeing that first supermarket open up," said Wielock. "Then we know we're headed in the right direction."