By Staff Sgt. David C. Kirtland, Louisiana National Guard Public Affairs Office
BATON ROUGE, La. – The Louisiana National Guard, at the direction of the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, is working with the U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Marines Reserves, Louisiana State Police and the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries to rescue Texan citizens from the rising floodwaters in southeast Texas, Aug. 30.
The LANG is providing Guardsmen, high water vehicles, buses and helicopters to conduct search and rescue and transport citizens from the Texas border to shelters that have been established in Lake Charles.
“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.”
LANG Adjutant General, Maj. Gen. Glenn H. Curtis said Louisiana and Texas have a longstanding history of helping each other in times of need.
“They were here during Katrina, and they helped us last year during the floods. 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 U.S. Coast Guard and the U.S. Marines Reserves are conducting air search and rescue operations in the Port Arthur, Texas, area. LANG Airmen with the 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 Master Sgt. Mark Simpson, an West Lake native with the 122nd ASOS. “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 LANG’s 139th Regional Support Group have staged commodities, which include MREs, tarps, sandbags and bottles of water at various points throughout the state in order to provide quick distribution to affected areas.
To date, the LANG has issued more than 1,152 MREs, 3,000 bottles of water and 415,000 sandbags.
The LANG currently has more than 530 Guardsmen activated in parishes around the state responding to the Tropical Storm Harvey emergency response, to include eight helicopters for search and rescue and Guardsmen with high water vehicles and boats prepositioned in Calcasieu, Vermillion, Orleans, Lafayette, Red River, Natchitoches, Caddo, Ouachita and Rapides parishes.
Louisiana’s Guardsmen are trained, ready and equipped to stand up at any moment to protect lives and property, maintain communications, and ensure the continuity of operations and government.