National Guard assist New Orleans police after tornado cuts through neighborhoods
By Staff Sgt. David Kirtland Louisiana National Guard February 13, 2017
NEW ORLEANS-- Louisiana Army National Guard members continue to provide 24-hour security operations in New Orleans East after a powerful tornado struck the area Tuesday.
Approximately 100 soldiers from 2nd Battalion, 156th Infantry Regiment, 256th Infantry Brigade Combat Team are supporting the New Orleans Police Department by manning 16 static traffic control points in New Orleans East.
The tornado tore through neighborhoods around Chef Menteur Highway, impacting more than 5,000 structures and completely destroying approximately 300 structures along its two-mile path, according to New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu.
POWERFUL TORNADO, THUNDERSTORM
The tornado was the strongest recorded in New Orleans and one of five confirmed touchdowns spawned by a severe thunderstorm which battered southeast Louisiana.
The guard's presence has been well received by the community, according to Army Maj. Nick Acosta, the operations officer for the battalion.
"People have been super supportive out here," Acosta said. "They've brought food to soldiers at control points and have stopped by to thank us."
Guard members have been working around the clock directing residents to their homes through the damaged areas, and soldiers' and citizens' spirits remain high.
"The morale out here has been great," Acosta said. "The soldiers have been taking time with each citizen that comes through their checkpoint to ensure each person gets the right information to get them home."
"It feels good," said Army Sgt. Brian Smith. "This is why I joined the guard. I enjoy helping people."
The Louisiana Army National Guard currently has approximately 145 soldiers activated for the disaster recovery.
Soldiers will continue to provide traffic control points in New Orleans East for as long as requested during the recovery process.
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