Local guard unit heading to Louisiana

Published 6:33 pm Friday, September 5, 2008

With the damage from Hurricane Gustav and the threat of Tropical Storm Hanna, emergency management teams are extending helping hands.

“No area in the United States is or can be prepared with the amount of resources it takes for a major catastrophic event,” Mike Boster, director of Lawrence County Emergency Management, said. “Resources that are available on location are impacted and not available so it’s important we help our neighbors.”

Boster said Lawrence County was notified that its assistance may be needed with Gustav, but the need for the county’s resources was cancelled. Instead, Boster said, resources from closer areas were used.

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However, Monday night the call went out to a Portsmouth-based unit of the Ohio National Guard. This morning 86 members of the 1191st Engineers Horizontal Co. began a three-day convoy to Alexandria, La. The unit includes members from Lawrence County.

“We are uncertain of the mission,” Sgt. 1st Class Joe Shilling of the Ohio Guard said. “They will do some engineering work. We don’t know what. They will hand out commodities.”

Right now, the company is scheduled to be back by Sept. 15.

“That could be extended,” Shilling said. “We got the call on Monday and got everyone out on Thursday. We were able to mobilize that quickly. Everyone showed up on Tuesday and by Thursday they were ready, almost 90 guys.”

Lawrence County was fortunate not to have to deal with the effects of Gustav, but with the threat of Hanna residents should watch for flooding caused by rain, Boster said.

“People should be aware,” Boster said. “Family preparedness is always important.”

September is National Preparedness Month and tips on dealing with emergency situations can be found at www.ready.ohio.gov, www.redcross.org and www.fema.gov, Boster said.

Tips for people who are disabled, pet owners, business owners and other special cases can be found on the sites, he said.