By Staff Sgt. Noshoba Davis, Louisiana National Guard Public Affairs Office
PINEVILLE, La. – The Louisiana National Guard (LANG) is responding to the Florida Department of Emergency Management’s request for assistance through the Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC) process after Hurricane Ian, Sept. 30.
Roughly 80 Guardsmen, 30 tactical vehicles and one UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter have moved into Florida to assist local and state officials with various recoveryefforts, including search and rescue missions, commodities and supplies distribution and convoy planning, coordination and execution.
“These guys have been in the LANG a long time, know what’s going on and what they are doing,” said Capt. Harry James, executive officer for 199th Brigade Support Battalion, 256th Infantry Brigade Combat Team.
The LANG response comes just one year after the Florida National Guard’s 122nd Rapid Engineer Deployable Heavy Operational Squadron (REDHORSE) came to Louisiana’s aid and removed downed trees and other debris from roadways after Hurricane Ida tore through the pelican state.
“Prior to Hurricane Ida, we were prepared to provide support to Florida in 2017 in response to Hurricane Irma,” said Lt. Col. Kevin Middleton, deputy director of joint force development for the LANG. “It is a team effort from all states across the nation to develop plans to fill those gaps and provide a comprehensive National Guard response to the citizens in the affected areas.”
The EMAC concept was approved by Congress in 1996 and is an interstate mutual aid agreement that provides governors with a means to quickly request assistance for any type of emergency.
“We maintain a standing non-binding agreement for various capabilities needed,” Middleton. “They generally focus on post-storm support due to the lack of confidence in a storm’s final landfall location pre-storm, and the fact that a storm in the Gulf of Mexico may affect multiple states.”
The LANG stands ready to assist and support Florida communities affected by natural disasters.
“We joined this organization to help our local communities, and we want the Florida National Guard to be able to help their local communities. If we can assist with any heavy lifting and allow them to get out there and see their people, then we’ve done our job,” said James. “That’s what it’s about, people helping people.”