On Your Guard Flashback: Katrina

Ten years ago today (the date was Aug. 29 on that Monday in 2005), Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast. It is still arguably the worst natural disaster America has ever seen. It is also the National Guard’s greatest domestic mission in history.

Last week, GX Online published a 10th anniversary compilation of Katrina veterans’ stories. Here are a few paragraphs from the article that recap the crisis and the Guard’s response, as well as a link to read these amazing, first-hand accounts of the drama that unfolded.

Soldiers of the 832nd Medical Company hoist a survivor from an apartment building surrounded by floodwater. Wisconsin National Guard file photo

Soldiers of the 832nd Medical Company hoist a survivor from an apartment building surrounded by floodwater. Wisconsin National Guard file photo

It covered an area the size of Great Britain. Whipped up winds upon landfall that reached 125 mph. Produced waves three stories high. Plunged 80 percent of New Orleans under water. Knocked out power in 3 million homes across eight states. Forced nearly 1.2 million residents to evacuate. Left 600,000 families homeless for a month. Destroyed property at an estimated cost of more than $80 billion. And took over 1,800 lives.

Other storms have been deadlier. But none had the impact of Katrina in scope, complexity, and human suffering. By one scientific measure, Katrina generated nearly twice the energy as the atomic bomb at Hiroshima.

Track hoe operator SGT Dolphus “Buster” Carter (left) and SGT Jamie Peters, both with the Mississippi Guard’s B Company, 890th Engineer Battalion, clear public land in Biloxi as part of the coastal clean-up operations. Photo by 2LT Murray B. Shugars

Track hoe operator SGT Dolphus “Buster” Carter (left) and SGT Jamie Peters, both with the Mississippi Guard’s B Company, 890th Engineer Battalion, clear public land in Biloxi as part of the coastal clean-up operations. Photo by 2LT Murray B. Shugars

Lieutenant General (Ret.) H. Steven Blum, then-chief of the National Guard Bureau, promised two things to President George W. Bush: “We’ll give you whatever you need,” and, “We’re here for as long as you need us.”

More than 50,000 Soldiers and Airmen, coming from every U.S. State and Territory, contributed to the rescue, relief, and recovery efforts. It was the largest military response to a domestic event in the Nation’s history — and came at a time when nearly 80,000 Guard troops were already deployed overseas.

Troops came by foot, truck, boat, and helicopter. They were in the Superdome in New Orleans. On the streets of Gulfport, MS. In the skies over the coastline. They fed and sheltered victims; rescued the stranded; and tended to the infirm. They transported people and provisions; generated power; pumped out water; and removed debris. They quieted civil unrest; directed traffic; sandbagged properties; facilitated communication; and moved more than 18,000 tons of supplies. The Army Guard, at times going house to house, saved more than 17,000 people.

On this 10-year anniversary of that historic mission, there are sure to be thousands of stories told by Katrina veterans. We offer a selection of Soldiers representing different perspectives and response site. (Read at this link: http://gxonline.com/katrina#sthash.jM85fo71.dpuf.)

A Humvee traverses floodwater surrounding the Superdome in September. Photo by SSG Jacob N. Bailey

A Humvee traverses floodwater surrounding the Superdome in September. Photo by SSG Jacob N. Bailey

 

To the brave Soldiers who were part of the Katrina Response a decade ago, On Your Guard says “thank you.”

If you aspire to protect our Nation’s citizens when natural disasters strike, consider making it happen through a part-time commitment in the Army National Guard. Search our jobs board for available opportunities and contact a recruiter today.

 

Original story information and photos courtesy of GX Online. GX is an official publication of the Army National Guard.

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