Guardsmen at forefront of Katrina rescue, recovery
August 31, 2005
WASHINGTON — More than 8,200 National Guardsmen in four states had been called up by Tuesday to deal with the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, and officials said more could be called to duty later in the week.
Mississippi Guardsmen had been conducting search and rescue missions since Monday afternoon, according to spokeswoman Lt. Megan Jones. About 2,200 troops were stationed throughout the state to assist with humanitarian efforts, she said, but by midday Tuesday had not yet managed to get into many coastal areas.
Two battalions with about 800 soldiers from Alabama National Guard units also are headed to Mississippi, said spokesman Lt. Col. Robert Horton. Another 800 have begun operations in southwest Alabama, including along its coastline.
Defense Department spokeswoman Lt. Col. Ellen Krenke said about another 3,700 Louisiana Guardsmen and 700 Florida Guardsmen have been put on duty, handling tasks such as law enforcement, traffic control, and medical support.
Some 6,000 National Guard personnel from Louisiana and Mississippi who would otherwise be available to help are in Iraq.
Even so, Pentagon spokesman Lawrence Di Rita said the states have adequate National Guard units to handle the hurricane needs. He said about 6,500 National Guard troops were available in Louisiana, about 7,000 in Mississippi, nearly 10,000 in Alabama and about 8,200 in Florida.
Keesler Air Force Base in Mississippi suffered extensive damage to base housing, training facilities and industrial areas from raging floodwaters. There were no injuries reported at the base.
Navy officials were still evaluating the damage to facilities in the area, including Pensacola Naval Air Station in Florida, and Naval Station Pascagoula in Mississippi. Two frigates were moved from Pascagoula before the storm hit, and were still out at sea.
The Associated Press and Stars and Stripes reporter Jeff Schogol contributed to this report.
Find out more
A partial list of Hurricane Katrina and disaster relief information available on the Web:
The Associated Press