TOP STORY >> Guard ready for evacuees
Leader staff writer
The Arkansas National Guard opened the Searcy Readiness Center in White County Tuesday, along with the Crossett Readiness Center in Ashley County to provide shelter for Hurricane Katrina evacuees. The two centers were opened in addition to the Monticello Readiness Center in Drew County.
Thousands of refugees from Louisiana and Mississippi have poured into Arkansas, seeking shelter from the storm.
An Arkansas National Guard response team of 15 personnel and seven vehicles left Tuesday evening from the Army National Guard Readiness Center in Hazen to respond to a request from the National Disaster Medical System to rescue patients stranded at the Veterans Administration Medical Center in New Orleans.
Additionally, the Guard supplied cots and blankets to shelters at First Baptist Church of West Memphis in Crittenden County, Lake Village High School in Chicot County and the Hot Springs Convention Center in Garland County.
Convoys of 350 combat engineers, transportation specialists, medics, and military police are scheduled to depart Wednesday morning from their home stations in Jonesboro, Marked Tree and West Memphis with nearly 75 vehicles and other pieces of equipment.
The troops will report to Camp Shelby, Miss., as Task Force Razorback.
The Arkansas National Guard is expected to assist with debris removal, law enforcement efforts and humanitarian aid in the area.
An advance party, including the Task Force Razorback commander, moved out Tuesday to prepare for the arrival of the troops at Camp Shelby.
Additionally, two UH-60 MEDEVAC Black Hawk helicopters departed from Camp Robinson to assist with search and rescue efforts in the Biloxi/Gulfport region.
The Guard’s unique dual mission allows the governor, as the commander in chief, to utilize National Guard in a state of active duty status for operations such as disaster response.
Communities requesting support from the Arkansas National Guard coordinate with county emergency management coordinators or the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management to funnel requests through the proper channels. Gov. Mike Huckabee must approve all requests for the National Guard.