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American Forces Press Service

National Guard Now Better Equipped for Hurricanes, General Says

By Air Force Lt. Col. Ellen Krenke
Special to American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Aug. 29, 2008 – Double the amount of available equipment compared to when Hurricane Katrina struck three years ago will strengthen the National Guard’s response to hurricanes along the Gulf Coast, the National Guard Bureau’s director of domestic operations said at Federal Emergency Management Agency news conference here today.

Air Force Maj. Gen. William Etter cited “strong interest” and support from Congress and the Defense Department for the increase in the National Guard’s equipment levels.

In addition to equipment, the general said, about 65,000 National Guard troops are available in the Gulf Coast states as Tropical Storm Gustav approaches for an expected landfall as a Category 3 hurricane Sept. 2. About 400,000 Guard members are available throughout the country, an increase of 10 percent from three years ago.

Along with the personnel and equipment, Etter added, a “great relationship” with U.S. Northern Command and other federal partners “will strengthen our response.”

“Our response will be rapid and effective,” he said.

Etter also strongly encouraged residents in areas that potentially could be affected to follow instructions given by local emergency management officials.

As of today, governors in three states have activated National Guard personnel to respond to Tropical Storm Gustav, including 3,400 in Louisiana, up to 5,000 in Texas, and 3,000 in Alabama.

The Florida National Guard has released most of the 500 troops it activated for Tropical Storm Fay, but a core team will continue to monitor Gustav, as well as Tropical Storm Hanna, over the weekend.

(Air Force Lt. Col. Ellen Krenke serves at the National Guard Bureau.)

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