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Louisiana National Guard troops head to Florida to help with Ian relief

“Helping our neighbors in need in Florida is what we’re here for."

ST. TAMMANY PARISH, La. — Louisiana National Guard troops out of St. Tammany Parish left for the hurricane damaged part of Florida on Thursday morning.

The transportation company was one of the longest military convoys of high-water trucks to leave the state of Louisiana.

There were 35 vehicles with about 70 soldiers ready to help the victims in storm weary southwest Florida.

Captain Lakin Douglas, who commands the 1087 Transportation Company out of Camp Viller, said he believes that his troops can make an impact on relief and rescue efforts there. 

“We’re expecting to do high water rescues with troops or residents of the state of Florida,” Douglas said. “We have vehicles that can do cargo carry, so if they need any cargo carried, we’ll take care of that as well.

The citizen soldiers volunteered for this mission. Most, like Captain Douglas from Bogalusa, have experienced this type of disaster in their own hometowns.

“Paying it forward means everything to us,” Douglas said. “Other states have come in and helped our state and Florida was one state that helped us during Hurricane Ida. So, we’re very appreciative to go back and help them.”

Sgt. Eric Mitchell is from New Orleans.

“When it comes down to it, anybody going through storm, I already know the needs and the help that they’re going to need, period,” Mitchell said

Specialist Mack Hickman is from Houston.

“My parents actually live in Florida, so does my little sister, but just in general, I think anytime you can help someone, you need to, especially when you put this uniform on,” Hickman said.

The soldiers don’t know exactly where they will end up in Florida, but say they’ll be ready to hit the ground running when they get there.

"It’s incredibly important,” Hickman said. “Unfortunately, and fortunately, we do have experience with this. We’ve been through Hurricane Laura, Ida, Delta, Zeta, more than we can name.”

“Helping our neighbors in need in Florida is what we’re here for,” Mitchell said.

More than 150 soldiers from engineer battalions across Louisiana were reported on standby for possible duty Florida.

They would be assisting in storm debris removal is needed.

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