JEFFERSON CITY — Members of the Missouri National Guard are closing in on their first week in Louisiana, where they’ve joined an estimated 8,000 other soldiers assisting in the state’s recovery from Hurricane Ida.
An estimated 300 soldiers from the Show-Me State are providing humanitarian support, equipment and debris removal in Livingston Parish, which is east of Baton Rouge, as well as in Houma, a city of 30,000 people southwest of New Orleans, Guard spokesman Jonathan Klusmeyer told the Post-Dispatch Wednesday.
Similarly, Illinois has sent a 46-member Urban Search and Rescue Team to the hard-hit region to aid with water rescues caused by life-threatening flash flooding and dangerous storm surges.
The team, made up of members of fire departments from across Illinois, will be deployed to the affected area for 16 days.
The Missouri soldiers arrived on Sept. 3 after Ida ripped through Louisiana, making landfall as a Category 4 hurricane.
“Our soldiers took with them the equipment necessary to conduct their mission. Equipment includes vehicles, trailers, chainsaws, dump trucks, water trailers and skid steers,” Klusmeyer said.
According to the Army, soldiers from Louisiana and 11 other states are protecting lives and property, maintaining communications and ensuring the continuity of operations and government throughout the state.
Among their first missions was to rescue stranded residents through air, water and land searches. Since Aug. 29, when Ida hit south Louisiana, that effort has resulted in the rescue of 397 people and 65 pets, the Army said.
As of Monday, the National Guard had distributed 2.4 million meals, 117,484 tarps, more than 2.7 million liters of water, 224,000 sandbags and 377,107 bags of ice.
The Guard also has deployed 17 large bulk-water container trucks to provide water in five parishes.
Teams also have cleared roads and distributed generators across the state, which is slowly restoring its damaged power grid. Some homes and businesses have been without power in southeast Louisiana since the storm hit.
While the majority of New Orleans could have power restored sometime Wednesday, others in the hardest-hit parishes could be waiting until the end of the month for electricity.
At night, the soldiers from Missouri are being housed in local schools.