Martin C. Evans

Katrina’s Lessons To Guide Guard Deployment During Irene

In Uncategorized on August 26, 2011 at 5:31 pm

Acting to spare local Guard troops the possibility of having to chose between duty and family, National Guard leaders in Albany will send troops from elsewhere in New York State to assist local emergency crews during Hurricane Irene’s expected battering of Long Island.

Heeding a state of emergency declared today by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Albany has ordered a detachment of 220 soldiers from western New York State – complete with heavy trucks, chain saws and emergency equipment – to ride out the storm at the new Armed Forces Reserve Center in Farmingdale. Another 290 troops will be on call at Camp Smith, just north of New York City.

The troops and equipment would be ordered into action should local leaders on Long Island ask for help.

Meanwhile, Army and Air National Guard aircraft based at MacArthur Airport in Patchogue and at Gabreski Airport in Westhampton Beach spent today and yesterday being moved to airfields out of the storm’s path.

At Gabreski airfield, which is home to several C-130 cargo planes, aircraft from the 106th Air Rescue wing began leaving Thursday. Crew members with the 3rd Battalion, 142nd Aviation Regiment were to fly five Army National Guard UH-60 helicopters to Rochester from their base at MacArthur Airport in Ronkonkoma. The unit’s remaining three helicopters, which are undergoing maintenance, will be secured in hangers.

The Guard’s decision to call on troops from outside the area for disaster relief was based on the experience of emergency responders during Hurricane Katrina, said Guard spokesman Eric Durr.

With their own families threatened by rising waters during Katrina’s 2005 battering of New Orleans, many emergency workers there were unable to report for duty, which hampered rescue and recovery efforts.

“And remember, many of our Guard members themselves have day jobs as local policemen or firefighters, or have families of their own who might need help,” Durr said.

Durr said an additional 225 Guard troops from upstate would be available to join emergency crews in New York City, with 150 stationed at Camp Smith and another 75 an armory in Harlem.


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