NEWS | Sept. 15, 2021

Louisiana National Guard prepares for new storm

By Staff Sgt. Gregory Stevens, Louisiana National Guard

NEW ORLEANS – The Louisiana National Guard staged assets to respond to Tropical Depression Nicholas while continuing statewide emergency operations after Hurricane Ida.

More than 5,000 Louisiana Guardsmen were protecting lives and property, maintaining communications, and ensuring the continuity of operations and government throughout the state. Another 2,500 Guardsmen from 14 other states and over 400 active-duty service members integrated into the response missions.

“The downtown area in Lake Charles and the Sabine River are prone to flooding,” said Lt. Col. Chris Spurlock, 527th Engineer Battalion commander. “Even though we’re stationed here in Calcasieu Parish, we’re ready to support operations in the entire region.”

Soldiers with the 1020th Engineer Company, 527th Engineer Battalion, 225th Engineer Brigade from Marksville staged high-water vehicles (HWV) and flat-bottom boats at the Burton Coliseum in Lake Charles in preparation for search and rescue operations that may be needed in southwest and south-central Louisiana due to the arrival of Nicholas. 

The LANG had 80 HWVs, 23 boats and 15 helicopters positioned in preparation for Nicholas, which was expected to dump a lot of rain as it moved through Louisiana Wednesday and Thursday.

“Safety is the No. 1 thing, especially when you get in high water,” said Staff Sgt. Blake Brouillette of the 1020th. “If we must evacuate people, we can load them into the back of the trucks. If the water is too high, we’ll launch our boats, rescue and bring them to higher ground so we can get them to a safe place.”

In recent years, emergency operations have become a recurring challenge LANG Soldiers have met time and again.

“We’ve been doing this for a while, so we’ve gotten quite used to it. Once we get those initial assessments, whether it’s flooding, high-water rescue operations, lily pad operations, whatever the need is for the LANG, we’re here to support,” said Spurlock.

Since Hurricane Ida made landfall Aug. 29, National Guard engineer teams have assessed 5,304 miles of roadway and cleared 2,940 miles of road in 20 parishes. They have also cleared 31,339 cubic yards of debris from 162 municipal facilities.

More than 600 Louisiana Guardsmen assisted law enforcement in 17 parishes with security and traffic control.

The regional staging area in Tangipahoa Parish has dispatched more than 50 vehicles to provide clean, potable water to 10 parishes. Additionally, the LANG has distributed 5,951,355 meals, 283,170 tarps, 7,357,293 liters of water and 1,164,819 bags of ice.

The LANG rescued 397 people and 65 pets through air, land and water search and rescue efforts and is positioned to support aerial casualty evacuation efforts.

In addition to the storm response, the LANG is supporting 27 COVID-19 test sites, 17 vaccine sites and seven food banks.