NEWS | Aug. 31, 2021

Thousands of National Guard members support hurricane relief

By Sgt. 1st Class Denis Ricou, Louisiana National Guard

NEW ORLEANS – More than 5,100 National Guard members from multiple states are assisting with rescue and relief efforts in the wake of Hurricane Ida's destructive path through Louisiana, Mississippi and surrounding areas.

The hurricane made landfall in Louisiana Sunday as a Category 4 storm with 150 mph winds, dumping rain throughout the region, causing widespread flooding, power outages and damage to property. 

More than 4,800 Guard members from the Louisiana National Guard fanned out across south Louisiana to protect lives and property, maintain communications and ensure continuity of operations and government. In addition to 195 high-water vehicles and 73 rescue boats, the LANG has 34 helicopters supporting search and rescue, evacuation and reconnaissance missions as needed. By Tuesday, the Louisiana Guard said Guardsmen had rescued 359 people and 55 pets either by high-water vehicles, by boats or by air.

Louisiana Guard members are working with local officials in three parishes and helping distribute meals ready to eat, water, tarps and ice from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

A total of 5,009 National Guard troops were in Louisiana Monday, according to Army Lt. Col. Chris Mitchell, a Pentagon press officer. There were 150 Guard members in Mississippi, 100 in Texas and 40 in Alabama. 

In Alabama, Soldiers of the 711th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion in Mobile monitored reports, satellites and cameras, prepped response teams and coordinated with Alabama Emergency Management Agency cells across the state.

More than 320 members of the Tennessee Army National Guard’s 251st Military Police Company in Lexington and Savannah, 1172nd Transportation Company in Memphis and Waynesboro, and the 1176th Transportation Company in Dresden, Jacksboro and Smyrna departed Monday for Louisiana to assist with relief and recovery operations.

The Tennessee Guardsmen will help with security, provide high water vehicles to support rescue and recovery operations and to transport people out of the affected areas.

The Oklahoma National Guard was planning to deploy approximately 200 Guardsmen to Louisiana beginning Wednesday, but they have been authorized to send as many as 500 if conditions warrant. They will assist with route clearance, security, levee reinforcement and general support.

“This is what the National Guard is for,” said Col. Bob Walter, commander of the Oklahoma National Guard Joint Task Force. “Our organization is proud to help our neighbors in need, just as we did for both Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Harvey, and just as other states have done for us.”

The South Carolina National Guard was also preparing to assist Louisiana with personnel and equipment in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida. The types of missions the South Carolina National Guard would be expected to support include debris clearance and removal, transportation of supplies, security and logistical support.

“The South Carolina National Guard is experienced in responding to hurricanes, and we are prepared to help the citizens of Louisiana in support of the Louisiana National Guard,” said U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Van McCarty, the adjutant general for South Carolina.

David Vergun with DOD News contributed to this story.