Alabama Army National Guard
PRATTVILLE, Ala. - Soldiers of the 217th Military Police Company spent nearly a week providing security for a Hurricane Gustav evacuee center located at the Wallace State Community College in Hanceville, Ala.
Gov. Bob Riley dispatched the MPs to assist local, county and state law enforcement officials in providing security at the evacuee center.
About 1,200 evacuees were housed at the junior college campus. Most were from Louisiana and arrived by bus throughout last weekend.
2nd Lt. Joseph M. Bennett, the 217th MP company platoon leader, explained that Gov. Riley chose the Military Police specifically because of their law enforcement training.
“We provide an extra arm for local authorities,” he said. “We are relief in place. Their deputies are taxed, their funds are taxed, and their assets are taxed. We are here to augment any service the local law enforcement provides.”
Soldiers of the 217th MP Company worked along side local law enforcement officials to ensure command and control at the evacuee centers.
Many of the evacuees were also evacuees of Hurricane Katrina. Bennett said they noticed a positive difference in the planning and logistics of the Gustav evacuations. “They are appreciative about the services that are being provided to them here, but they are eager to return home to their loved ones and their homes.”
Some of those services included three hot meals a day, cots to sleep on, and medical services provided by the American Red Cross.
Along with the Red Cross, various members of the community volunteered laundry service, prescription refill services and entertainment including dance contests and a concert from a local band.