Thousands of Guard Troops Respond to Hurricane Ida

Thousands of Guard Troops Respond to Hurricane Ida

Truck convoy
Photo by: Louisiana National Guard

Nearly 5,300 National Guard troops are helping with rescue and relief efforts after Hurricane Ida slammed into the Gulf Coast.

The storm, one of the most powerful hurricanes to ever hit the U.S. mainland, struck coastal Louisiana exactly 16 years after Hurricane Katrina, leaving at least one person dead, widespread power outages and a trail of destruction. It weakened into a tropical storm as it pushed inland over Mississippi.

“In the last 72 hours we have activated 4,900 Guardsmen, staged 195 high-water vehicles, 73 rescue boats, 34 helicopters ready to assist in the recovery from Hurricane #Ida. #ProtectWhatMatters,” an Aug. 29 tweet from the Louisiana National Guard said. 

This mobilization is the latest for the National Guard, which has responded to numerous missions in the past two years, including the COVID-19 pandemic, hurricanes, wildfires, civil unrest and deployments overseas. 

Despite the high operational tempo, the National Guard has kept its promise to the nation, its top general said.

“We demonstrate today, as we have every day since 1636, that ‘Always Ready, Always There’ is more than our motto. It’s our promise,” said Gen. Daniel Hokanson, chief of the National Guard Bureau, who spoke Aug. 29 during the National Guard Association of the United States’ general conference in Las Vegas. 

As of Aug. 27, approximately 28,000 National Guard members were supporting domestic operations across the U.S., according to the Guard. Overall, more than 63,000 Guard troops are engaged in missions at home and overseas, the Guard said.

National Guard members have supported COVID-19 response efforts for more than a year. As the delta variant ravages parts of the U.S. and case rates overwhelm the health care system, the National Guard has continued to provide testing and vaccinations across the country. 

Over 19,600 National Guard professionals continue COVID-19 response efforts in all 50 states, three territories and the District of Columbia,” the National Guard said Aug. 27. 

In addition, National Guard members also helped to distribute food and personal protective equipment across the country as a part of the COVID-19 response.  

The National Guard has also played a key role in wildfire response as the western United States endures a particularly dry, brutal fire season. Nearly 1,600 Guard troops from across the country are battling blazes in Arizona, California, Colorado and Oregon, the Guard said Aug. 27. 

The National Wildland Fire Preparedness level escalated to its highest level on July 14, “the third earliest occurrence since 1990,” according to an Aug. 1 wildfire report from the National Interagency Fire Center. 

No matter the mission, National Guard troops bring a wide range of skills to the job, said Air Force Maj. Gen. Steven Nordhaus, director of National Guard Bureau operations. 

“We bring a broad range of skills and processes that we can tailor to just about any type of disaster or emergency response,” he said, according to the Guard.