By Sgt. Tresa L. Allemang
199th Brigade Support Battalion Unit Public Affairs Representative
NEW ORLEANS (09/09/08) - As busses filled with travelers destined to make it home, rolled in to Jefferson Parish, Soldiers from 2nd Battalion, 156th Infantry Regiment of the 256th Infantry Brigade Combat Team were there to help clear the chaos.
The Palace movie theater in Jefferson Parish was originally supposed to be a drop-off location for one parish according to Deano A. Bonano, Homeland Security Chief for Jefferson Parish. But that changed as the point was turned into a state-wide hub.
With the challenge of more than 35,000 evacuees returning home, Homeland Security needed help controlling the flow and movement back home. That is where the 2/156th, currently stationed at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, stepped in.
“The Guard came in and united with our forces and it is working great,” said Bonano. “It would have been difficult to pull off without the Guard … we needed the man-power and organization.”
In addition to helping get the evacuees back home, Soldiers were there to hand out water and MREs.
Bonano put all of the commanders from all of the different agencies together and let them work out a solution that would help ease the chaos.
The newly-formed team ended the first day of evacuations with 81 bus loads of people from 13 parishes. Bonano said that number is expected to reduce daily as the last Citiizens return.