National Guard Continues Vital Hurricane Response

National Guard Continues Vital Hurricane Response

Soldiers helping during hurricane relief
Photo by: U.S. Army/Sgt. 1st Class Trinity Bierley

Nearly a month after Hurricane Ian ripped through Florida, the National Guard continues to provide support to communities that are still recovering from the powerful storm.

The hurricane, tied for the fifth-strongest hurricane to make landfall in the U.S., forced evacuation orders for approximately 2.5 million Floridians and left about one-quarter of the state without power at peak outage. The storm, which made landfall in Florida on Sept. 28, killed at least 119 people in Florida alone and was the state’s deadliest storm since the 1935 Labor Day hurricane. 

About 5,000 Army National Guard soldiers assisted with Hurricane Ian response efforts, according to the Florida National Guard. About 4,900 of them were from the Florida National Guard, and about 100 were from emergency management assistance compact partners, which allows state-to-state assistance, including National Guard units, during state or federally declared emergencies.

The National Guard continues to assist in Hurricane Ian response and recovery efforts. 

“We currently have 80 Guardsmen still on duty, and they’re working in the State Logistics Readiness Center and Logistics Staging Area and/or performing maintenance on our high-wheeled vehicles that performed high water missions during the response,” the Florida National Guard said in a statement Oct. 25. 

On the ground, Florida National Guard members conducted liaison missions in 14 counties to facilitate emergency response missions, and the Florida Guard’s engineering resources assisted with route clearance in Pinellas and Lee Counties, according to a news release from Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. 

The Guard saved thousands of people and performed vital emergency response tasks. 

“National Guard soldiers and airmen from Florida and seven other states … ultimately [saved] the lives of more than 2,000 people and 50 pets,” according to an Oct. 20 DoD release. “Their work in Florida included clearing roads, delivering vital supplies and equipment, supporting law enforcement, and conducting search and rescue operations.” 

The National Guard brought 16 helicopters, 1,640 high-wheeled vehicles, seven boats and 36 fuel tankers and generators to assist with recovery efforts, according to a Guard release. 

The National Guard’s resources were invaluable to rescue and recovery efforts, Gen. Daniel Hokanson, chief of the National Guard Bureau, said in an Oct. 4 Guard press release. 

“[Recovery] is primarily where our assets and high-water vehicles can really get in there and control those areas where people might be trapped or in danger to try to get them to safety as quickly as possible.”

The Guard will continue to help with Hurricane Ian recovery efforts, he said. 

“Because we’re in every community, we’re part of the first responders to assist in recovery immediately,” Hokanson said. “The National Guard will stay as long as we’re needed.”