National Guard Prepares For Tropical Storm Isaac
By Amaani Lyle
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Aug. 24, 2012 National Guard Coordination Center officials are stepping up efforts to prepare for the possibility that Tropical Storm Isaac, now in the Caribbean, could strengthen and affect the U.S mainland.
“Though no states have yet sought assistance, we’re planning on a Gulf strike at Category 1 [hurricane] level in Mississippi, Alabama or the Florida panhandle,” said Air National Guard Col. Matt Wessel, the Coordination Center’s operations director. “We’ve identified Army Guard aviation rotary assets from numerous states, including Gulf region states outside of the storm’s path, as well as fixed wing C-23s and 38 helicopters within the local region ready to respond.”
Wessel said state and Guard officials will closely monitor the course of the storm to determine what assets may be needed and how to quickly to respond.
The National Weather Service reports the center of Isaac will move near or over southeastern Cuba Saturday and is expected to strengthen. While the exact track is uncertain, residents in South Florida and the Florida Keys are being told to monitor Isaac’s path.
“We’ve done the analysis on the trigger point and we’ve got it covered,” Wessel said. “We’re prepared and ready to initiate emergency support functions while providing direct support to ensure the NGB is able to carry out emergency functions.”
Lt. Col. Al Gorman, Army National Guard current operations director, said NGB officials are preparing for storms and closely coordinating with states and assisting states where necessary.
“If the storm looks to be greater than a Category 2, states may consider mutual aid and troops may be sent from one state to another to assist,” he said.
The deployment or redeployment of aircraft, however, is at the discretion of the local commanders’ responsible for those assets.
“That is a precautionary measure to protect the taxpayers’ assets,” Wessel said.