Sand, debris and devastation from the hurricane can be found throughout Grand Isle, as well as other parishes in the area.
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(Photo Credit: Chuck Cannon)
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46th Engineer Battalion deployed more than 150 Soldiers and 51 pieces of equipment from the Joint Readiness Training Center and Fort Polk as part of Marine Forces Command North’s Task Force 51 to support Hurricane Ida Response Operations.
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(Photo Credit: Chuck Cannon)
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46th Engineer Battalion, 20th Engineer Brigade, Soldiers work in a command center in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida to coordinate support on Grand Isle, Louisiana, Sept. 8.
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(Photo Credit: Chuck Cannon)
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GRAND ISLE, La. – On. Aug. 31, Fort Polk’s 46th Engineer Battalion, 20th Engineer Brigade, was the first Army active-duty unit to respond in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida.

Lt. Col. Jon-Paul Depreo, commander, 46th Eng Bn, said the unit deployed more than 150 Soldiers and 51 pieces of equipment from the Joint Readiness Training Center and Fort Polk as part of Marine Forces Command North’s Task Force 51 to support Hurricane Ida Response Operations.

“Our Soldiers are conducting debris removal along emergency routes in southeastern Louisiana in coordination with Louisiana state and local authorities, the 225th Engineer Brigade, Louisiana Army National Guard, and Navy Seabees from Gulfport, Mississippi,” Depreo said. “They are also clearing debris from levees throughout the region. Their ability to assemble and deploy is a testament to the ongoing cooperation between civil and military forces across the total Army and Department of Defense.”

Brig. Gen. William Prendergast, Oregon National Guard, assigned to Army North, is the TF-51 commander.

The task force established its headquarters on Fort Polk in the installation Berry Mission Training Center.

“We are here establishing support to the Federal Emergency Management Agency to help Louisiana and the Louisiana National Guard in their disaster response to Hurricane Ida,” Prendergast said. “We are building capacity and capability across DoD to respond into the affected areas of Louisiana.”

Prendergast said Task Force Truck from Fort Hood, Texas, came to Fort Polk on Sept. 4 and was reorganized to support the effort, in addition to the Seabees, 46th Eng Bn and LANG.

“It’s great to be a part of Marine Forces Command North and working for Lt. Gen. Robert Hedelund, commander, U.S. Marine Corps Forces Command and U.S. Marine Corps Forces Northern Command,” Prendergast said. “We are supporting MARFOR North as they lead this mission.”

Prendergast said TF-51 has a great working relationship with Maj. Gen. Keith Waddell, adjutant general for the Louisiana National Guard.

“The Louisiana National Guard is in the lead and we’re here to support them in disaster recovery efforts,” he said.

Maj. Maria Carver Frishman, operations officer, 46th Eng Bn, is with the battalion Tactical Command Post in Terrebonne Parish overseeing the unit’s work in Terrebonne, Lafourche and St. Mary’s parishes.

“We’ve divided the unit into four teams,” she said. “One is in Grand Isle, which was completely covered in sand. They are clearing the streets and to date (Sept. 7) they’ve moved about 2,000 cubic yards. They have another week or week and a half to go.”

Carver said the rest of the teams are in Lafourche and Terrebonne parishes clearing levees and canals.

“They are using chainsaws and large vehicles with giant arms and hooks on the end to clear the debris,” she said.

Carver said the unit has been told they would be deployed until Sept. 24, but also that in reality, it’s day-to-day: Could be longer or shorter.

“Morale is high,” she said. “We’ve got hot breakfast and dinner, and large circus-type tents to sleep in with cots. It’s a lot of hard work and we’re tired, but the local population is supportive, and every time they see us, they bring us food and water and thank us for helping them.”

Captain Cristina Palomino, commander, 687th Engineer Construction Company, 46th Eng Bn, 20th Eng Bde, said the unit has two missions: Levee and roadway clearing of the debris left in Hurricane Ida’s wake.

“We are removing any debris from the levees so safety inspectors can come by and check on the status of the levees,” she said.

The second mission is clearing Louisiana Highway 1 in Grand Isle.

“There was about 2 feet of sand on the main road and we’ve been collecting that and removing it to a dump site,” she said.

Palomino said work has gone smoothly and the local population has been supportive.

“They understand why we are here and they seem to appreciate it,” she said.

For Palomino, responding to hurricanes has become just another day at the office.

“I got here in 2018 and we responded to a hurricane on Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida,” she said. “Then we had hurricanes Laura and Delta last year that affected Fort Polk and now Hurricane Ida.”

The experience has been both unique and rewarding, Palomino said.

“We get to use our engineering to support real-world situations,” she said. “We could have training scenarios on Fort Polk in the Box, but there is nothing like doing it with a purpose that helps other citizens.”

Depreo said he is proud of the work done by his unit’s Soldiers.

“Their morale has been high, and it’s apparent they understand the importance of what they are doing for the citizens of Southeast Louisiana,” he said.

Depreo pointed to Spc. Michael Green, 687th Eng Co, as an example of the Soldiers’ attitudes.

“Specialist Michael Green was a 12-year-old in New Orleans when Hurricane Katrina hit the city,” Depreo said. “He said he remembers Soldiers in uniform helping them survive the storm’s aftermath, and he said he considers it an honor and his duty to do the same for those who are struggling to survive Hurricane Ida.”

GRAND ISLE, La. – On. Aug. 31, Fort Polk’s 46th Engineer Battalion, 20th Engineer Brigade, was the first Army active-duty unit to respond in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida.

Lt. Col. Jon-Paul Depreo, commander, 46th Eng Bn, said the unit deployed more than 150 Soldiers and 51 pieces of equipment from the Joint Readiness Training Center and Fort Polk as part of Marine Forces Command North’s Task Force 51 to support Hurricane Ida Response Operations.

“Our Soldiers are conducting debris removal along emergency routes in southeastern Louisiana in coordination with Louisiana state and local authorities, the 225th Engineer Brigade, Louisiana Army National Guard, and Navy Seabees from Gulfport, Mississippi,” Depreo said. “They are also clearing debris from levees throughout the region. Their ability to assemble and deploy is a testament to the ongoing cooperation between civil and military forces across the total Army and Department of Defense.”

Brig. Gen. William Prendergast, Oregon National Guard, assigned to Army North, is the TF-51 commander.

The task force established its headquarters on Fort Polk in the installation Berry Mission Training Center.

“We are here establishing support to the Federal Emergency Management Agency to help Louisiana and the Louisiana National Guard in their disaster response to Hurricane Ida,” Prendergast said. “We are building capacity and capability across DoD to respond into the affected areas of Louisiana.”

Prendergast said Task Force Truck from Fort Hood, Texas, came to Fort Polk on Sept. 4 and was reorganized to support the effort, in addition to the Seabees, 46th Eng Bn and LANG.

“It’s great to be a part of Marine Forces Command North and working for Lt. Gen. Robert Hedelund, commander, U.S. Marine Corps Forces Command and U.S. Marine Corps Forces Northern Command,” Prendergast said. “We are supporting MARFOR North as they lead this mission.”

Prendergast said TF-51 has a great working relationship with Maj. Gen. Keith Waddell, adjutant general for the Louisiana National Guard.

“The Louisiana National Guard is in the lead and we’re here to support them in disaster recovery efforts,” he said.

Maj. Maria Carver Frishman, operations officer, 46th Eng Bn, is with the battalion Tactical Command Post in Terrebonne Parish overseeing the unit’s work in Terrebonne, Lafourche and St. Mary’s parishes.

“We’ve divided the unit into four teams,” she said. “One is in Grand Isle, which was completely covered in sand. They are clearing the streets and to date (Sept. 7) they’ve moved about 2,000 cubic yards. They have another week or week and a half to go.”

Carver said the rest of the teams are in Lafourche and Terrebonne parishes clearing levees and canals.

“They are using chainsaws and large vehicles with giant arms and hooks on the end to clear the debris,” she said.

Carver said the unit has been told they would be deployed until Sept. 24, but also that in reality, it’s day-to-day: Could be longer or shorter.

“Morale is high,” she said. “We’ve got hot breakfast and dinner, and large circus-type tents to sleep in with cots. It’s a lot of hard work and we’re tired, but the local population is supportive, and every time they see us, they bring us food and water and thank us for helping them.”

Captain Cristina Palomino, commander, 687th Engineer Construction Company, 46th Eng Bn, 20th Eng Bde, said the unit has two missions: Levee and roadway clearing of the debris left in Hurricane Ida’s wake.

“We are removing any debris from the levees so safety inspectors can come by and check on the status of the levees,” she said.

The second mission is clearing Louisiana Highway 1 in Grand Isle.

“There was about 2 feet of sand on the main road and we’ve been collecting that and removing it to a dump site,” she said.

Palomino said work has gone smoothly and the local population has been supportive.

“They understand why we are here and they seem to appreciate it,” she said.

For Palomino, responding to hurricanes has become just another day at the office.

“I got here in 2018 and we responded to a hurricane on Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida,” she said. “Then we had hurricanes Laura and Delta last year that affected Fort Polk and now Hurricane Ida.”

The experience has been both unique and rewarding, Palomino said.

“We get to use our engineering to support real-world situations,” she said. “We could have training scenarios on Fort Polk in the Box, but there is nothing like doing it with a purpose that helps other citizens.”

Depreo said he is proud of the work done by his unit’s Soldiers.

“Their morale has been high, and it’s apparent they understand the importance of what they are doing for the citizens of Southeast Louisiana,” he said.

Depreo pointed to Spc. Michael Green, 687th Eng Co, as an example of the Soldiers’ attitudes.

“Specialist Michael Green was a 12-year-old in New Orleans when Hurricane Katrina hit the city,” Depreo said. “He said he remembers Soldiers in uniform helping them survive the storm’s aftermath, and he said he considers it an honor and his duty to do the same for those who are struggling to survive Hurricane Ida.”