Monroe National Guard helps with Hurricane Ida relief efforts

Published: Sep. 16, 2021 at 11:21 AM CDT
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MONROE, La. (KNOE) - Hurricane Ida left major damage in many parts of south Louisiana, prompting groups to help out from around the country. The National Guard from northeast Louisiana was sent down to help too.

The 528th Engineer Battalion from Monroe went down to south Louisiana to assist. Their executive officer and battalion operations officer say they were sent down the Friday before Hurricane Ida hit. They took all battalion assets including high water vehicles and boat platforms for high water rescues. The group sheltered in Gonzales in Ascension Parish before setting out to help in boat search and rescue operations when St. Charles Parish started taking on water.

Major Robert Bratton says the battalion was responsible for rescuing about 135 people and five pets.

“The next morning, once the storm clear, we immediately sent out what they call engineer assessment teams that started doing damage assessments to identify where our route clarity assets were needed. Our first priority after search and rescue was to open up all main supply routes and avenues of approach that led to hospitals or allowing utility crews and others to get into the area,” Bratton said.

Major Bratton says it was a very complex environment to work in because of how many trees and powerlines were down. They opened up every main supply route and some secondary avenues to civilian traffic and emergency personnel.

The group then headed to Grand Isle. Major Bratton says it was shocking to see the area after the storm because every home and business was completely off the grid.

“There’s no power. The roads are covered in sand and rock and debris. You’ve got elements of the 528th engineer battalion and our 1023 company is based out of Bastrop. You got the 46 engineers out of Fort Polk, Louisiana. You’ve got engineers from the navy that have that are on-site there right now and are working 24-hour operations to work to get that clear,” Bratton said.

He says guard members are working all day - from when the sun comes up to when they can’t see anymore. Major Bratton says it means a lot to the Monroe battalion to help our neighbors down south after something like this.

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