By Staff Sgt. Matthew Bates
Air Force Print News
BATON ROUGE, La. (09/01/2008) - As Hurricane Gustav made landfall on the Gulf Coast, the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security praised the men and women of the Air Force and the National Guard for their efforts during preparations for the storm.
Secretary Michael Chertoff said the services were especially useful to help evacuate people with medical needs, such as critical care patients, who would be unable to otherwise leave the area.
"It was really the Air National Guard and the Air Force who came to the rescue setting up an air bridge so we could fly people out on C-130s and C-17s," he said. "It was a real positive addition to the capabilities we have on the ground."
The secretary added that the National Guard and other services will be heavily relied upon once relief efforts begin.
"The National Guard, and military in general, play a critical role in response," he said. "They are the boots on the ground, assisting with the security, clean up and rebuilding of the areas effected by this catastrophic hurricane."
One area where the military will be used frequently is search and rescue operations.
"That's going to be the main area where the National Guard and the military are going to be operating within hours after the storm passes," Secretary Chertoff said.
Officials in Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama all have declared states of emergency, and National Guard and other military units have been activated in each of these states, ready, willing and able to perform whatever mission is needed.
"So far, by all accounts, they've been doing very well," Secretary Chertoff said.