RI National Guard Ready To Help In Harvey’s Aftermath

Aug 30, 2017

With many Houston neighborhoods still under water, Rhode Island Air National Guard troops remain on standby, ready to head to the Gulf Coast in a matter of hours.

Col. Peter Parenti, a spokesman for the Rhode Island National Guard, said two flight crews and C130J planes have been on standby since Sunday.

Parenti said depending on the needs in the Gulf Coast, crews can procure supplies and load aircraft with equipment within 24 hours.   

“Food, water, generators, communications equipment-- we’ve been known to transport rescue vehicles. We could obviously transfer personnel if they needed some uniformed folks to do some traffic control checkpoints,” Parenti said.

According to Parenti, states usually coordinate disaster relief efforts in layers. Local towns and municipalities will use their emergency services first.

“Once they become overwhelmed you start looking at state assets,” Parenti explained. “When they become overwhelmed-- based on the mission-- if the National Guard can perform the mission that can no longer be performed locally or by the state, then they will come in.”

If the state’s National Guard troops need additional resources, said Parenti, adjacent states can be tapped for their National Guard troops as well as non-military support.

“Maybe some civilian organizations come in that might have the skills and experience to perform the specific mission,” Parenti said. “And then, reach back all the way to states outside the region.”

As of Wednesday, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott had already called in all of his state’s 12,000 National Guard troops. The Air National Guard has added resources from seven other states, including a C-130 Hercules transport plane with eight Connecticut airmen.