COVINGTON, La.– Members of the LANG’s 1021st Vertical Engineer Company, 225 Engineer Brigade, directed, supplied and staffed a Point of Distribution site at the St. Tammany Parish Fairgrounds during a Commodities Distribution Exercise, May 19.
According to 1st Lt. Jesse Nelson and Staff Sgt. Charles T. Brown, officer-in-charge and noncommissioned officer-in-charge respectively for the Covington event, the purpose of this exercise was to practice the activities necessary to safely and efficiently distribute critical commodities such as food, water, ice and tarps for up to 5,000 citizens in a single day in the event of a local or statewide emergency.
These activities included manning three specific distribution points, controlling vehicle and foot traffic throughout the defined operational area, providing security and maintaining critical communications with LANG headquarters’ elements and parish and state emergency operations’ offices.
During Hurricanes Gustav and Ike in 2008, the LANG assisted at 16 POD locations throughout Southwest and Southeast Louisiana, distributing more than 11 million MRE’s, 13 million pounds of ice, 495,000 tarps, and more than 14 million bottles of water.
In a briefing with Pat Brister, president of St. Tammany Parish, Collins R. Simoneaux, Region 9 coordinator of the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security & Emergency Preparedness and Dexter Accardo, director of St. Tammany Parish Office of Homeland Security & Emergency Preparedness, Brig. Gen. Owen Monconduit, commander of the LANG’s 225th Engineer Brigade, emphasized the criticality of the Guard’s mission in support of interagency emergency response efforts.
“We have a responsibility to protect Louisiana citizens and to save lives. We have to be ready to respond to all types of hazards whether it’s a hurricane, local flooding on the West Pearl River, an act of domestic terrorism or a tornado landing somewhere in the parish,” said Monconduit.
Brister, elected president of St. Tammany Parish in October 2011, expressed her appreciation of the LANG and GOHSEP.
“We can’t do it alone. We have to be able to communicate and work together,” she said, stressing the importance of interagency cooperation at all levels of local and state government.
The purpose of LANG-directed Commodities Distribution Exercises is to test and validate Point of Distribution operations, communication systems and reporting procedures across multiple POD sites within a specified operational area.