Louisiana National Guard Aids in Texas Nursing Home Rescue
BATON ROUGE, La. --
The Louisiana National Guard joined in Texas rescue efforts yesterday, including helping to evacuate a nursing home in Orange.
The Louisiana Guard is providing Guard members, high-water vehicles, buses and helicopters to conduct search and rescue operations and to transport people from the Texas border to shelters that have been established in Lake Charles, Louisiana.
"Louisiana is prepared to help Texas in any way possible," said Gov. John Bel Edwards. "Fortunately, we are able to take care of the needs of Louisiana as well as provide the manpower and resources necessary to help Texas in its time of need. We've all been through this as partners in the past, and there is no doubt that we will get through this event together as well."
The Louisiana National Guard is acting at the direction of the Governor's Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness. It's working with the Coast Guard, U.S. Marine Corps Forces Reserve, Louisiana State Police and the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries to rescue citizens from the rising floodwaters in southeast Texas.
As the disaster brought by Hurricane Harvey's landfall continues to unfold in Texas, Air National Guard and Army National Guard units join civilian emergency partners and other military units in rescues and providing services to the thousands of people displaced by flooding.
More than 3,500 people have been rescued, National Guard Bureau officials said. More troops -- including active-duty service members, guardsmen and reservists -- will be phased in as necessary, military officials have said.
As of today, Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, Utah and Virginia are providing National Guard personnel to the efforts.
Army Maj. Gen. Glenn H. Curtis, Louisiana's adjutant general, said Louisiana and Texas have a long-standing history of helping each other in times of need.
"They were here during Katrina, and they helped us last year during the floods," he said. "That bond, that feeling you get when you cross state borders to help those in in need, to provide relief -- that's what makes the National Guard special."
The Coast Guard and the Marines Reserves are conducting air search and rescue operations in the Port Arthur, Texas, area. Airmen with the Louisiana Air National Guard's 122nd Air Support Operations Squadron, headquartered in Pineville, are providing aircraft communication support to the Coast Guard at the Southland Airport in Sulphur.
"We are setting up communications at Southland Field," said Air Force Master Sgt. Mark Simpson, who is with the 122nd Air Support Operations Squadron. "We are linking the Coast Guard's tactical operations centers to the air assets so messages as far as Orange, Port Arthur and Beaumont [Texas] to help coordinate rescue efforts."
Also, soldiers with the Louisiana Army National Guard's 139th Regional Support Group have staged commodities, which include packaged meals, tarps, sandbags and bottles of water at various points throughout the state to provide quick distribution to affected areas. To date, they have issued more than 1,152 meals, 3,000 bottles of water and 415,000 sandbags.
Louisiana has more than 530 Guard members activated in parishes around the state responding to the weather emergency response, including eight helicopters for search and rescue and Guard troops with high-water vehicles and boats pre-positioned in Calcasieu, Vermillion, Orleans, Lafayette, Red River, Natchitoches, Caddo, Ouachita and Rapides parishes.
(The National Guard Bureau contributed to this article.)