Chertoff Praises Guard for Relief Efforts

Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff on Monday praised members of the Air National Guard and their Army Guard brethren for their efforts in preparing for the onslaught of then-Hurricane Gustav that hit the Gulf Coast that same day. Among their activities, Guard personnel helped evacuate residents with special medical needs who would have otherwise been unable to leave the areas in the storm’s expected path. “It was really the Air National Guard and the Air Force who came to the rescue setting up an air bridge so we could fly people out on C-130s and C-17s,” he said. “It was a real positive addition to the capabilities we have on the ground.” Chertoff said the Guardsmen would be heavily relied on once relief efforts commenced in roles such as search and rescue, security, and rebuilding devastated areas. In addition to the Air Guard, Air Force Reserve Command and active duty personnel have been supporting response preparations and relief efforts. For example, AFRC WC-130J Hurricane Hunters continue to track the storms, and airmen of the 480th Intelligence Wing are providing analysis of overhead surveillance imagery to help local and civil authorities assess damage. (Includes Baton Rouge report by SSgt. Matthew Bates, Keesler report by TSgt. James Pritchett, and Langley report by MSgt. Steven Goetsch)