Louisiana Guard’s Focus Shifts to Food, Water Distribution
American Forces Press Service
BATON ROUGE, La., Sept. 4, 2008 With the majority of the state without electricity and in need of food, water and basic necessities, the Louisiana National Guard has shifted its post-Hurricane Gustav focus.
Louisiana National Guard soldiers on hurricane relief duty in New Iberia, La., distribute water to thirsty residents of New Iberia Parish, Sept. 2, 2008. U.S. Army photo By Sgt. 1st Class Paul Meeker, 241st Mobile Public Affairs Detachment
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
“After the landfall of Gustav, our focus was to save lives beginning immediately at dawn [Sept. 2]. By 11 a.m., we had flown the affected area across the state and realized that search and rescue wasn’t required,” Army Col. Douglas J. Mouton, the Louisiana Guard’s operations officer, explained. “We immediately shifted our focus from search and rescue to food and water distribution, which is a significant operational transition. Now, here we are 24 hours after that focus shifted, standing up food, water, ice and tarp distribution points.”
The Guard soldiers set up 22 distribution sites in about 48 hours since the focus shift, Mouton said. So far, more than 640,000 packaged meals, 920,000 liters of water and 25,000 tarps have been distributed to those affected, he added.
The Guard is focused on increasing distribution sites throughout the state over the next few days as roads are cleared and troops make their way to locations around the state to assist those in need.
“We evacuated, so we were OK, but I know those who didn’t went far too long without necessities,” said Daniel McLaughlin, a resident of Mandeville, La., who was affected by Hurricane Katrina three years ago. “I am really impressed with the speed of assistance, and it makes me proud to see that emergency response has come so far.”
“As we mobilize to get the distribution points set up, we get requests from the parishes and prioritize as quickly as possible,” he said. “When you consider the scale and magnitude of the distribution mission, given an extremely tight schedule, it is pretty impressive. We are not where we want to be, but will not stop pressing the effort until all the affected people of Louisiana are getting the support they need and deserve.”
(From a Louisiana National Guard news release.)