National Guard troops from multiple states have been activated, with some troops from Tennessee and Mississippi being sent to Florida in response to Hurricane Ian, which became a Category 4 storm when it made landfall just after 3 p.m. on the west coast of the state.
The hurricane has since been downgraded to a Category 3 as of late Wednesday around 8:00 p.m. local time, with winds at 100 mph or higher. Some 1.6 million or more households are affected by power outages, prompting curfews in some areas.
Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee, a Republican, had on Sept. 26 authorized some 1,200 members of the state’s National Guard to “support response and recovery efforts for Hurricane Ian.” They will be “preparing to assist the Florida National Guard with post-hurricane recovery and debris removal,” according to Lee’s office. Three helicopters are also being sent to assist.
“As Florida braces for the impact of Hurricane Ian, the Tennessee National Guard stands ready to support response and recovery efforts in the aftermath of the storm,” Lee said in a statement. “I commend our Guardsmen and women for representing the Volunteer State and answering the call to help Floridians in need.”
Florida and Tennessee have a pre-existing mutual support agreement in place for emergencies or large-scale disasters to enable National Guard forces to mobilize quickly to help their fellow state.
Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves on Sept. 28 announced that 20 members of the Mississippi National Guard will be deployed “for emergency response missions in Florida.”
“Florida has consistently been there for us in our time of need and I approved this deployment in order to assist in their emergency response efforts,” Reeves, a Republican, said in a statement. “All of Mississippi is praying for Florida amidst Hurricane Ian.”
Two helicopters will also be sent to “provide airlift support of critical commodities” across Florida, Reeves’s office stated.
Tennessee and Mississippi have also sent emergency response teams to Florida. The Army Corps of Engineers, Memphis District, announced earlier on Sept. 28 that 20 of its members are on the way and are prepared to help the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) respond to the hurricane.
Meanwhile, more than 500 trained disaster workers from the Red Cross are on the ground in Florida to support sheltering and relief efforts. The American Red Cross Tennessee Region has sent 36 of its volunteers and staff in Florida “and this number is expected to grow significantly in the next several days,” the Red Cross said, reported WMC.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Sept. 26 announced that some 5,000 of the state’s National Guard members were activated in bracing for the hurricane.
According to the National Hurricane Center in an 8 p.m. advisory late Sept. 28, the center of Hurricane Ian “is expected to move across central Florida tonight and Thursday [Sept. 29] morning and emerge over the western Atlantic by late Thursday.”
“Ian is forecast to turn northward on Friday [Sept. 30] and approach the northeastern Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina coasts,” the advisory reads.
“Further weakening is expected for the next day or so, but Ian could be near hurricane strength when it moves over the Florida East coast tomorrow [Sept. 29], and when it approaches the northeastern Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina coasts on Friday [Sept. 30],” it adds.
At least two other states have activated their National Guard members in response to Hurricane Ian. In Georgia, Republican Gov. Brian Kemp signed an executive order (pdf) on Tuesday declaring a state of emergency and ordering the state’s defense department to provide up to 500 members of the Georgia National Guard in “preparation, response, and recovery” efforts.
Meanwhile, in North Carolina, Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper authorized the activation of “about 80 members of the North Carolina National Guard to assist as needed.”
“A State of Emergency is needed now so that farmers and those preparing for the storm can more quickly get ready for the heavy rain that is likely to fall in much of our state,” Cooper said. “North Carolinians should stay aware, keep a close eye on the forecast, and prepare their emergency supplies.”