BATON ROUGE, La. – Thousands of Louisiana National Guardsmen continue emergency operations in the state in the wake of Hurricane Ida.
More than 5,380 members of the Louisiana National Guard are protecting lives and property, maintaining communications, and ensuring the continuity of operations and government throughout the state. In addition, there are 2,676 Guardsmen from 11 other states and 374 active-duty service members augmenting response missions.
One of the first missions following any hurricane is to save lives through air, land and water search and rescue (SAR). Since Ida made landfall in south Louisiana Aug. 29, the LANG has rescued 397 people and 65 pets.
While on a high-water boat mission to check on people in Maurepas Sept. 1, Spcs. Gemini Jack and Jacob Hawkins from the 1020th Engineer Vertical Construction Company, 527th Engineer Battalion, 225th Engineer Brigade, rescued an elderly cancer patient.
“That was the first time I really ever got the chance to help somebody, and it was a really good feeling,” said Hawkins.
The Soldiers found the man lying on a couch in a building. He said he hadn’t eaten in three days and was feeling too weak to move. “We got in there and immediately noticed that he was in bad condition,” said Jack.
They lined the bow of their boat with couch cushions so the man would have a comfortable place to lay for the ride back to where an ambulance was waiting to take him to receive medical care at a hospital.
At the same time, aviation assets were conducting air search and rescue operations with daily flyovers of the affected areas to ensure nobody was stranded.
“On Monday, we started in the vicinity of Houma and worked our way south,” said Chief Warrant Officer 3 Ronald Cole, with G Company, 2-238th General Support Aviation Battalion. “Our main priority was to look for individuals needing evacuation.”
“We heard a call where they needed a hoist bird activated north of Grand Isle. A guy had a house on stilts, and his stairs and access to the ground were blown away,” said Spc. Christopher Brossette, the crew chief with G Company, 2-238th.
“Basically, I hooked one of our crew members up to the hoist and lowered him onto the porch from above,” said Brossette. “When we put the citizen down on the ground, he was picked up by the mayor of Grand Isle in his truck.”
To assist coordination efforts at the local level, the LANG had liaison officer teams in 18 parishes.
The regional staging area in Tangipahoa Parish has had trucks and trailers delivering food and water to direct locations and to 64 points of distribution (POD), which are also staffed by service members.
As of Sept. 6, the LANG had distributed 2,437,765 meals, 117,484 tarps, more than 2.7 million liters of water, 224,000 sandbags and 377,107 bags of ice.
The LANG has deployed 17 large, bulk-water container trucks to provide clean, potable water in five parishes.
Louisiana Guard engineer work teams also helped assess potentially compromised infrastructure and 3,974 miles of roadway and cleared 2,397 miles of roads in 20 parishes.
Working with the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness (GOHSEP), the Guard has 133 generators deployed to assist areas affected by power losses.
In addition, 475 Guardsmen are assisting law enforcement with security and traffic control in 15 parishes.