ARLINGTON, Va. - Hauling people to safe, dry places became one of the main missions for National Guard troops after Hurricane Ike rampaged through Texas and Louisiana on Friday night and Saturday.
Guardmembers had rescued nearly 2,000 people in Texas, the hardest hit state, by Monday, and had rescued or evacuated another 343 in Louisiana, the states reported.
“We’re proud of the work our troops are doing out there,” said Lt. Col. James Waskom, deputy commander of Louisiana’s 256th Infantry Brigade Combat Team. “But we’ve got to keep our heads in the game because there is lots of work still out there to do.”
Texas Guard members utilized ground, water and air assets to help people stranded by the hurricane that, ironically, bears the famous nickname of one of the state’s most famous sons. Dwight D. Eisenhower, the 34th president, was born in Denison, Texas, near the Oklahoma border, in 1890.
Texas troops had rescued 1,554 people with ground vehicles and boats and had rescued another 394 people with helicopters by midday Monday, reported Kristine Munn, a spokesperson for the National Guard Bureau. Furthermore, they had assisted 639 people who were not evacuated and had assessed the damage to about 500 buildings.
“The No. 1 mission is search and rescue, second is damage assessment, and third is setting up points of distribution,” said Maj. Gen Charles Rodriguez, the Texas adjutant general, before the storm struck. That is how it all worked out in both states.
Louisiana troops rescued 308 citizens during 44 missions with high-water vehicles, 29 citizens during six boat missions, and six citizens with two helicopter missions, Guard officials reported.
The state had 255 trucks, 41 boats and 20 helicopters for search and rescue missions, it was reported.
“Our Guardsmen have proven once again that they are the finest Soldiers and Airmen in America,” said Maj. Gen. Bennett Landreneau, Louisiana’s adjutant general. “They are truly remarkable, working every day to assist their fellow citizens, even though in many cases their homes were flooded or damaged and their own families evacuated.”