FORT INDIANTOWN GAP, Pa. – More than 40 Pennsylvania National Guard members and four CH-47 Chinook helicopters are currently assisting with the response to Hurricane Irma.
The Pennsylvania contingent is among nearly 20,000 Army and Air National Guard personnel involved in Hurricane Irma relief, according to figures Wednesday from the National Guard Bureau.
Two CH-47 Chinooks and crew members that were previously used in Hurricane Harvey response efforts in Texas were repositioned over the weekend to be used in the Hurricane Irma response. Two additional CH-47 Chinook aircraft and crew members departed Pennsylvania to join the effort in Florida.
The aircraft and crew will integrate with thousands of National Guard members and first responders onsite. Potential missions for the aircraft and crew include delivering items like food and water to stranded people and providing emergency transportation for those needing to evacuate.
Additional Pennsylvania National Guard members are on duty at PA's joint emergency operations center, where they provide planning and coordination support. The center maintains continuous communications with National Guard Bureau and PEMA in order to anticipate future requirements that could be assigned to Pennsylvania National Guard Soldiers and Airmen.
"We're proud of our Guardsmen as they operate the heavy lift Chinook helicopters," said Maj. Gen. Tony Carrelli, Pennsylvania's adjutant general, "these assets provide a life line to communities that may otherwise be cut off due to storm damage. This is what we train for; this is why America has a National Guard."