August 30, 2012
By Spc. Tarell J. Bilbo, 241st Mobile Public Affairs Detachment
NEW ORLEANS (Aug. 29, 2012) — The Louisiana National Guard has pre-staged about 680 troops and assets across the New Orleans metropolitan area in order to better protect the community and its citizens as Hurricane Isaac churns across the Gulf coast.
The slow-moving storm produced a tide surge of almost 11 feet above normal tide levels at Shell Beach, just south of New Orleans, as it moved ashore Wednesday and weakened to 70 mph winds.
In order to quickly respond to possible high-water evacuation or search and rescue missions, Soldiers from the 769th Engineer Battalion, 225th Engineer Brigade staged Humvees hitched with boats at Jackson Barracks, which sits on the edge of the lower 9th Ward, one of the hardest hit areas of the city when Hurricane Katrina struck in 2005.
“We’re in a position to respond to areas that will most likely be affected by major flooding,” said 1st Lt. Ryan Collins, officer in charge of the mission. “Once we do a damage assessment, we can then determine where we are needed.”
Not too far from Jackson Barracks, Soldiers from 1st Battalion, 141st Field Artillery Regiment, have been assisting the New Orleans Police Department as they patrol the city in an effort to deter theft and vandalism.
“We definitely want to keep the businesses and the community safe,” said NOPD officer Kevin Rickmon Jr. “By working with the Louisiana National Guard, we’re able to have better visibility to ensure that happens.”
Providing support to local and state civil authorities is part of the overall mission of the Louisiana Guard.
“We’re here to support the civil authorities with security and engineering operations, as well as commodity distribution operations,” said Maj. Marc Prymek, support operations officer with the 199th Brigade Support Battalion. “Our Soldiers are ready, trained and equipped for any possible task.”