PINEVILLE, La. – The Louisiana National Guard is supporting the response to Hurricane Ian in Florida at the request of the Florida Department of Emergency Management.
Almost 80 Louisiana Guard members, 30 tactical vehicles and one UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter arrived in Florida to assist local and state officials with storm recovery efforts. The Louisiana Guard is helping search for and rescue hurricane victims and distributing commodities and supplies.
“These guys have been in the LANG a long time, know what’s going on and what they are doing,” said Capt. Harry James, executive officer for 199th Brigade Support Battalion, 256th Infantry Brigade Combat Team.
The LANG response comes just one year after the Florida National Guard’s 122nd Rapid Engineer Deployable Heavy Operational Squadron (REDHORSE) came to Louisiana’s aid and cleared roads after Hurricane Ida tore through the pelican state.
“Prior to Hurricane Ida, we were prepared to provide support to Florida in 2017 in response to Hurricane Irma,” said Lt. Col. Kevin Middleton, deputy director of joint force development for the LANG. “It is a team effort from all states across the nation to develop plans to fill those gaps and provide a comprehensive National Guard response to the citizens in the affected areas.”
The Louisiana National Guard’s help comes through the Emergency Management Assistance Compact, which allows governors to request assistance quickly in emergencies.
“We maintain a standing nonbinding agreement for various capabilities needed,” said Middleton. “They generally focus on post-storm support due to the lack of confidence in a storm’s final landfall location pre-storm, and the fact that a storm in the Gulf of Mexico may affect multiple states.”
The LANG stands ready to support Florida communities affected by natural disasters.
“We joined this organization to help our local communities, and we want the Florida National Guard to be able to help their local communities. If we can assist with any heavy lifting and allow them to get out there and see their people, then we’ve done our job,” said James. “That’s what it’s about, people helping people.”