Eye on Ivan
Wednesday, September 15, 2004
Sun Herald military reporter Patrick Peterson sent in this report:
GULFPORT -- State National Guardsmen began patrolling with Coast deputies on Wednesday to help them learn the areas that might be hardest hit by he storm.
"They'll assist (local) police as soon as they can get out (on Thursday)," said Maj. Gen. Harold Cross, adjutant general of the Mississippi National Guard.
As many as 200 state Guardsmen arrived in South Mississippi on Wednesday, and 1,000 were scheduled to arrive by noon Thursday, traveling from North Mississippi and Camp Shelby when the storm slows.
"Businesses breathe easier when we're here," said Lt. Col. Tim Powell, spokesman for the Mississippi National Guard.
Hurricane Ivan was on a track to make landfall near 1 a.m. near the Mississippi/Alabama line, and Jackson County would be the hardest hit.
A squad of military police and military engineers was posted at each Emergency Operations Center in the three Coast counties. The Guard, however, posted four, 5-ton trucks and 20 Guard drivers at the Jackson County Emergency Operations Center in Pascagoula, poised to evacuate residents trapped by rising water.
Guardsmen will not make routine evacuations during the storm.
"It would have to be a life-or-limb emergency," said Cross.
Cross said Gov. Haley Barbour planned to visit South Mississippi as soon as weather conditions allowed him to fly.
Some 1,000 state Guardsmen came to the Coast to help during and after Hurricane Georges in 1998.
Nearly half of the state's 10,000 Guard troops are serving overseas or mobilized and training to serve in Iraq next year. Cross said up to 5,000 of the state's remaining troops could be mobilized, and 8,500 Army troops now training at Camp Shelby could also be called on to help.
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