Monday, September 1, 2008

Iowa sends guardsmen to help with Gustav recovery

As part of a national effort, the Iowa National Guard sent 245 guardsmen to Louisiana Sunday to help residents brace for Hurricane Gustav and the impending aftermath, the Des Moines Register reported:
Lt. Col. Gregory Hapgood, Guard spokesman, said the units are from Camp Dodge in Johnston, Sheldon, Davenport and Sioux City. They include a Chinook helicopter from Davenport, a 180-member transportation company from Sheldon and a 50-member company from the 185th Combat Support Sustainment Battalion based at the Camp Dodge headquarters.

Hapgood said Louisiana asked for the support under an agreement among the various state National Guard operations in which they help each other respond to disasters.

The CH-47 Chinook helicopter from Davenport, capable of lifting 20,000 pounds, arrived by midday Sunday, with the 185th Air Refueling Wing from Sioux City supporting the mission. The 2168th Transportation Company out of Sheldon left Sunday and was expected to arrive today. Davenport's Company B, 2nd Battalion, 211th General Support Aviation Battalion is involved with the Chinook operations. The Camp Dodge unit is on the way.

The Iowa units will help with evacuations and supply transportation and general recovery support, Hapgood said.
The latest reports, as of Monday evening, indicate that Gustav is losing strength as it moves inland and has been downgraded to a Category One hurricane with winds of 75 mph, the Florida-based National Hurricane Center reports.

Nonetheless, an estimated two million people have inland from the Louisiana coast, so the guardsmen will have their hands full with recovery efforts and helping transports supplies and people back to their homes.

After this summer’s unprecedented flooding in Iowa, guardsmen are no strangers to providing flood relief and support to flood victims. Just over 4,000 Iowa guardsmen and airmen were activated during the ongoing response to the flooding in Iowa this summer. Currently, 9,400 men and women serve in the Iowa National Guard, 1,500 of whom are currently deployed to Iraq, Afghanistan and other locations outside of Iowa.

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