BATON ROUGE, La. – The Louisiana National Guard currently has over 1,260 soldiers and airmen providing assistance across the state to operations including COVID-19, Hurricanes Laura, Delta and most recently Zeta.
Following initial rescue operations once a storm passes, the LANG focuses on recovery operations including engineer support, road clearance, and the set up and operation of Points of Distribution sites (PODs).
Currently, the LANG is operating two PODs, one in Braithwaite and one in Grand Isle, which provides a central location for citizens to pick up meals, water, ice and tarps.
In Grand Isle, the first to feel the strength of the high winds and water surge from Zeta, Mayor David Camardelle says his dad told him at an early age that the Louisiana National Guard will always be there to help the people until they are no longer needed.
“The people down here are always so excited to see the National Guard because they know help has arrived,” said Camardelle. “It makes me emotional and relieved when I see the Guard trucks coming onto the island after any storm, and it makes me emotional when they leave because I know we are on the road to recovery.”
To date, the LANG has distributed over 21,570 meals, 48,935 liters of water, 20,315 bags of ice, and 25,350 tarps to citizens affected by Hurricane Zeta.
“We bring the supplies to them, so they don’t have to drive out,” said Master Sgt. Tom Gates, an aircraft mechanic with the 159th Fighter Wing, who mentioned that the nearest store to Braithwaite with electricity is an hour away. “These people just went through a major storm. We’re just trying to help them … give them a little bit of peace and comfort.”
This is the first POD mission for Airman 1st Class Terrance Davis who reported serving over a hundred vehicles in the first two hours of the site opening on Saturday.
“When Katrina hit, I was in the fifth grade. Back then, there was nothing that I could do,” said Davis, who serves in the 159th. “So now that I’m older, it feels good to know that, when something happens, I can give back.”
“It’s great that the Guard came down here to help us out,” says Johnny Miller, a resident of the Braithwaite area. “It’s really nice of them to come out and help us in a time of need like this.”
Additionally, the LANG cleared 140 miles of road following Zeta’s landfall, while having assessed over 850 miles of road in southeast Louisiana.
The LANG has 60 generators on mission to mitigate the effects of Zeta.