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NEWS | Aug. 30, 2023

Florida National Guard Activated to Assist With Hurricane Response

By David Vergun, DOD News

WASHINGTON - Some 6,500 Florida National Guard members were supporting the response to Hurricane Idalia Wednesday, focused on search and rescue, clearing roads of debris and assessing damage caused by the storm that made landfall on Florida's Gulf Coast. Guardsmen from numerous other states were standing by to assist as needed.

At a midday news conference at the state emergency operations center in Tallahassee Wednesday, Maj. Gen. John Haas, Florida adjutant general, said the Guard's response included 2,400 vehicles, 14 aircraft and 23 small watercraft. The Kentucky National Guard was contributing UH-60 helicopters, with the South Carolina and Tennessee National Guard also available to help.

Idalia made landfall on Florida's West Coast at Keaton Beach Wednesday morning and, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, "may bring a life-threatening storm surge to portions of the Florida Gulf Coast, as well as strong winds and significant flooding across Southeastern states." 

FEMA is closely coordinating with affected states and stands ready to provide support. FEMA Incident Management Assistance Teams are deployed to affected areas and additional supplies and teams were on standby.

"This is a storm that we are certainly taking seriously, the state of Florida is taking seriously, in terms of not only making sure that we have the appropriate number of people in the state of Florida to help with any response that's needed but also prepositioning any assets or any forces that might be needed in the aftermath of the storm," Pentagon Deputy Press Secretary Sabrina Singh said Tuesday at a Pentagon press conference.

Singh also provided an update on the relief efforts in the aftermath of the western Maui wildfire in Hawaii.

As of Tuesday morning, approximately 580 National Guardsmen, 133 additional Defense Department personnel and 119 Coast Guardsmen were actively engaged in the coordinated response, she said.

U.S. Army Pacific is executing mission assignments from FEMA. The most recent mission assignment is potable water distribution support, she said.

Navy mobile diving salvage unit teams from Pacific Fleet concluded their dive operations. Joint Task Force 5-0 continues search and rescue activities with the Hawaii National Guard teams, the FBI and the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency, Singh said.

Hawaii National Guard continues round-the-clock support of local law enforcement. The 25th Infantry Division's fueling trucks distributed about 470 gallons of fuel over the past 48 hours in support of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' temporary power operations, she said.

Pacific Fleet's Navy Environmental Preventive Medicine Unit Six will deploy two sailors to Maui to support  potable water testing for the task force's water distribution mission, Singh said.
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Story updated by the National Guard Bureau.

 

 

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