National Guard prepares for Tropical Storm Isaac

  • Published
  • By Amaani Lyle
  • American Forces Press Service
National Guard Coordination Center officials are stepping up efforts to prepare for the possibility that Tropical Storm Isaac, now in the Caribbean, could strengthen and affect the U.S mainland.

"Though no states have yet sought assistance, we're planning on a Gulf strike at Category 1 (hurricane) level in Mississippi, Alabama or the Florida panhandle," said Air National Guard Col. Matt Wessel, the coordination center's operations director. "We've identified Army Guard aviation rotary assets from numerous states, including Gulf region states outside of the storm's path, as well as fixed wing C-23s and 38 helicopters within the local region ready to respond."

Wessel said state and Guard officials will closely monitor the course of the storm to determine what assets may be needed and how to quickly to respond.

The National Weather Service reports the center of Isaac will move near or over southeastern Cuba Saturday and is expected to strengthen. While the exact track is uncertain, residents in South Florida and the Florida Keys are being told to monitor Isaac's path.

"National Guardsmen are on a 'prepare-for-deployment' status, in that they're not yet being called into the armories but ready to assemble into a brigade-size, regional response force that can fulfill states' required needs should they escalate to a Category 3 or Category 4 status," Wessel said.

Lt. Col. Al Gorman, Army National Guard current operations director, said NGB officials are prepared for a worst case scenario and will act swiftly to coordinate troop movement should it cross state lines.

"If the storm looks to be greater than a Category 2, we'll start moving people," he said.