Like a silent sentinel, the monument dedicated to the 1st Maneuver Enhancement Brigade protects Warrior Memorial Park from Hurricane Laura’s wrath.
1 / 13 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Like a silent sentinel, the monument dedicated to the 1st Maneuver Enhancement Brigade protects Warrior Memorial Park from Hurricane Laura’s wrath. (Photo Credit: Chuck Cannon) VIEW ORIGINAL
Battered, but not beaten. The steeple of the Fort Polk Main Post Chapel might have been knocked from its perch, but the building stands strong.
2 / 13 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Battered, but not beaten. The steeple of the Fort Polk Main Post Chapel might have been knocked from its perch, but the building stands strong. (Photo Credit: Chuck Cannon) VIEW ORIGINAL
Long lines for gas were the rule rather than the exception in Laura’s aftermath.
3 / 13 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Long lines for gas were the rule rather than the exception in Laura’s aftermath. (Photo Credit: Chuck Cannon) VIEW ORIGINAL
Seagulls, who rode Hurricane Laura’s winds north, used Fort Polk’s Youth Catfish Pond as a layover before returning south to Lake Charles.
4 / 13 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Seagulls, who rode Hurricane Laura’s winds north, used Fort Polk’s Youth Catfish Pond as a layover before returning south to Lake Charles. (Photo Credit: Chuck Cannon) VIEW ORIGINAL
A Soldier from the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, keeps company a couple of pups placed in the Fort Polk Veterinary Treatment Facility’s Pet Safe Haven during Hurricane Laura recovery.
5 / 13 Show Caption + Hide Caption – A Soldier from the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, keeps company a couple of pups placed in the Fort Polk Veterinary Treatment Facility’s Pet Safe Haven during Hurricane Laura recovery. (Photo Credit: Chuck Cannon) VIEW ORIGINAL
Trees downed by Hurricane Laura’s 130 mile per hour winds blocked roadways across the Joint Readiness Training Center and Fort Polk.
6 / 13 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Trees downed by Hurricane Laura’s 130 mile per hour winds blocked roadways across the Joint Readiness Training Center and Fort Polk. (Photo Credit: Chuck Cannon) VIEW ORIGINAL
In a perfect display of Army Family resiliency, this crew welcomed home their Soldier even while recovering from Hurricane Laura.
7 / 13 Show Caption + Hide Caption – In a perfect display of Army Family resiliency, this crew welcomed home their Soldier even while recovering from Hurricane Laura. (Photo Credit: Chuck Cannon) VIEW ORIGINAL
Trees blown over or snapped by Hurricane Laura caused major damage to homes and buildings on Fort Polk.
8 / 13 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Trees blown over or snapped by Hurricane Laura caused major damage to homes and buildings on Fort Polk. (Photo Credit: Chuck Cannon) VIEW ORIGINAL
Fort Polk’s Warrior Hills Golf Course lost several trees and the netting by the driving range to Hurricane Laura.
9 / 13 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Fort Polk’s Warrior Hills Golf Course lost several trees and the netting by the driving range to Hurricane Laura. (Photo Credit: Chuck Cannon) VIEW ORIGINAL
Lineman from several different states made the trip to Louisiana and Fort Polk and worked to restore power in Hurricane Laura’s wake, replacing damaged or broken poles and repairing lines.
10 / 13 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Lineman from several different states made the trip to Louisiana and Fort Polk and worked to restore power in Hurricane Laura’s wake, replacing damaged or broken poles and repairing lines. (Photo Credit: Chuck Cannon) VIEW ORIGINAL
Lineman from several different states made the trip to Louisiana and Fort Polk and worked to restore power in Hurricane Laura’s wake, replacing damaged or broken poles and repairing lines.
11 / 13 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Lineman from several different states made the trip to Louisiana and Fort Polk and worked to restore power in Hurricane Laura’s wake, replacing damaged or broken poles and repairing lines. (Photo Credit: Chuck Cannon) VIEW ORIGINAL
Lineman from several different states made the trip to Louisiana and Fort Polk and worked to restore power in Hurricane Laura’s wake, replacing damaged or broken poles and repairing lines.
12 / 13 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Lineman from several different states made the trip to Louisiana and Fort Polk and worked to restore power in Hurricane Laura’s wake, replacing damaged or broken poles and repairing lines. (Photo Credit: Chuck Cannon) VIEW ORIGINAL
A common sight following Hurricane Laura’s destructive path through the Joint Readiness Training Center and Fort Polk was shingles dotting the landscape and roof damage to buildings.
13 / 13 Show Caption + Hide Caption – A common sight following Hurricane Laura’s destructive path through the Joint Readiness Training Center and Fort Polk was shingles dotting the landscape and roof damage to buildings. (Photo Credit: Chuck Cannon) VIEW ORIGINAL

FORT POLK, La. — Hurricane Laura.

The storm’s name will forever recall a night of deadly destruction and despair.

In the early morning hours of Aug. 27, Hurricane Laura, an historically powerful category 4 storm packing winds of 150 miles per hour, slammed into the southwestern Louisiana Gulf Coast, devastating cities and towns from Cameron to Shreveport.

In its wake were demolished homes, businesses and lives. Trees were either ripped out of the ground by the roots or snapped mid-trunk, criss-crossing the Louisiana landscape like some giant child’s game of pick-up stix.

Among the areas to feel Laura’s wrath was the Joint Readiness Training Center and Fort Polk, located on U.S Hwy 171 — the storm’s chosen path — just outside of Leesville, Louisiana.

The installation, home to the Army’s proving ground for brigade combat teams honing their skills prior to deploying to fight the nation’s wars, did not escape Laura’s fury. Power was lost, homes were damaged and even the steeple on top of the Main Post Chapel was blown off.

To compound matters, as Hurricane Laura took aim at southwestern Louisiana, Soldiers with the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), were in the “box” — the JRTC training area where rotational units are put through an unrelenting crucible by JRTC’s world renowned opposing forces: 1st Battalion (Airborne), 509th Infantry Regiment “Geronimos.”

When you throw in that the training and Laura’s recovery efforts were conducted under COVID-19 protocol and mitigation, you have an idea of what faced the Soldier and civilian team at Fort Polk.

In short order, 5,000 rotational Soldiers were moved from the wooded training areas to buildings designed to withstand hurricane winds.

Safe havens were established on the installation for both humans and pets to ride out the storm and her aftermath.

Clearing roads of debris was a priority as even senior NCOs manned chainsaws to assist in the effort.

The Warrior Operatios Center was staffed 24 hours a day to tackle any issue that reared its head or any question that needed answering.

Most importantly, the Families of rotational unit Soldiers from Fort Campbell, Kentucky, and Reserve units from 11 other states, along with permanent party OPFOR and observer, controller/trainers, were kept informed about the storm and steps taken to insure their Soldiers’ safety. Facebook posts and all-users emails were routinely published, letting concerned Family members know their Soldiers were receiving quality care.

Was the response perfect? No, nothing ever is. But what it did do was lay the groundwork and create a blueprint for others to emulate. From the specialist who sat on the floor of the kennel in the Pet Safe Haven to comfort scared pups, to Garrison Command Sgt. Maj. Christopher Ausbun wielding his chainsaw like a six gun to help clear downed trees, the entire JRTC and Fort Polk team worked together to protect life, limb and property from Laura’s wrath.

And once the damage is cleared and operations return to some semblance of order, after action reviews will be conducted and suggestions put in place to do even better when the next hurricane — or other catastrophic event — places the JRTC and Fort Polk in its sights.