The National Guard announced Thursday that it would activate over 5,000 guardsmen across Florida, Louisiana, New York, and Tennessee to assist with Hurricane Ian clean-up.
According to a statement by the military branch, the troops will also utilize 16 helicopters, 1,640 high-wheeled vehicles, seven boats, and 36 fuel tankers to conduct search and rescue operations, clear roads, and support local law enforcement.
"This is primarily where our assets and high-water vehicles can really get in there and control those areas where people might be trapped or in danger to try to get them to safety as quickly as possible," stated National Guard Bureau Chief Daniel Hokanson, a four-star Army general.
The Guard will also assist with returning power to areas hit heavily by outages, mobilizing the Florida Guard's 146th Expeditionary Signal Battalion to provide emergency communication through generators.
Currently, Florida Power & Light estimates that Lee County has over 245,000 customers without power out of 288,630 total customers in the area. Neighboring Charlotte County boasted even more staggering numbers, with 111,170 out of 126,690 lacking power.
"We are preparing for Hurricane Ian by giving our soldiers training on the Transportable Tactical Command Communications Ground Antenna Transmit and Receive devices," Sgt. Justin Love stated earlier this week.
"This training will allow us to support emergency operation centers when services are needed, such as phone service and internet," he added.
The news comes as southwestern Florida has been rocked by Ian, which made landfall as a Category 4 at 155 miles per hour on Wednesday into Thursday morning, The Hill reported.
President Joe Biden recently suggested the storm "could be the deadliest" in Florida’s history.
"The numbers are still unclear, but we're hearing early reports of what may be substantial loss of life," Biden said, adding that authorities continue to see "millions of people without power and thousands hunkered down in schools and community centers."
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