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Army Guard Ready for Hurricane Season

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North Carolina National Guard
Monday, July 08, 2019

More than 300,000 Army National Guard soldiers are prepared to respond to hurricanes and other natural disasters that may hit the U.S. this year.

“The National Guard is the nation’s first military responder,” said Army Master Sgt. Michael Houk, a National Guard Bureau spokesman. “We are the first to respond and the last to leave.”

Hurricane season in the Atlantic basin—which includes the Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico—runs from June 1 to Nov. 30.

The Army National Guard has domestic response exercises every year that cover a range of natural and man-made contingencies at local, regional and national levels, Houk said. A whole-of-government disaster response is stressed during these exercises.

“We continuously and rigorously train, coordinate and exercise with local and state emergency responders nationwide,” he said.

Army National Guard soldiers are trained to assist with evacuation and rescue, shelter management, supply delivery, maintaining and establishing communications, and restoring or preserving civil order.

Last year, Guard soldiers responded to 71 natural disasters, including the aftermath of Hurricanes Florence and Michael, the National Guard said. In 2017, troops responded to Hurricanes Harvey, Maria and Irma, and lessons learned from those responses were incorporated for faster response operations.

Houk said a key lesson learned from the 2018 hurricane season is the need to refine internal procedures. The National Guard has prepared for this year’s season by updating staff procedures and systems, he said.