Natural Disasters and the National Guard
Shannon King, Charity Director
The National Guard is a unique unit of the United States Armed Forces. Every member of the National Guard belongs to two organizations – The National Guard of the United States and The National Guard of their designated state. Locally, governors can mobilize their National Guard units to respond to a local natural or man-made disaster. On a Federal level, members can be called to duty in times of war or national emergencies. What makes the Guard unique is this decentralized control for domestic operations which provides a military force that can to respond to both local and national needs.
Natural disasters like fire and hurricanes can have regional consequences. The National Guard is one of the largest units of support to during a natural disaster like Hurricane Irma. Florida Governor Rick Scott has activated the entire Florida National Guard. In Florida, all 7,000 members of the state’s National Guard have been called into service. National Guard units from other states have also arrived to assist. There are currently 10,000 additional troops with another 20,000 on standby.
The National Guard has set up emergency evacuation shelters, providing medical assistance and is delivering supplies like food and water. Florida Governor Rick Scott commented that “These men and women are putting themselves in harm’s way to save the lives of their fellow Floridians while many of their own families are evacuating. I am proud of their commitment to keeping our families safe.”
In Texas, Governor Greg Abbott deployed his entire Texas National Guard unit of 12,000 soldiers to respond to Hurricane Harvey. Never has the entire unit been deployed in response to a single mission before, or at least not in recent history according to Abbott. Their number one mission is search and rescue with critical life support missions kicking in when the calls for rescue begin to subside. The Texas National Guard also set up points of distribution where items donated by other organizations will go to distribution points for distribution to the people that need them.
The National Guard currently has units deployed all along the eastern part of the United States in response to the current hurricane disasters, including New York and New Jersey. “Just as our Soldiers and Airmen stayed strong and answered the call during the floods of 2015, Hurricane Matthew last year and the many other recent events when our state needed support, so now is the time we must be ready for Hurricane Irma,” said U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Robert E. Livingston, Jr. the adjutant general for South Carolina.