In the US, Florida National Guard members began preparing for the potential impact of Hurricane Irma on 6 September and residents began evacuating. US Air and Army National Guard members were mobilized in the US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, as they waited for the storm to hit.
"As we prepare for the arrival of Hurricane Irma, I want our Airmen, their families and our community to know the Puerto Rico Air National Guard stands ready and prepared,” said Col. Rayond Figueroa, commander of the 156th Airlift Wing. “We are trained to deal with natural disasters when called upon by the Governor and follow his directives.”
In Florida, where Gov. Rick Scott mobilised 100 citizen-soldiers and airmen, all 7,000 Guard members were asked to report for duty on Friday, said the National Guard. Scott declared a state of emergency and urged residents to heed warnings and be prepared.
Speaking on 6 Septmber, Florida State Adjutant General Maj. Gen. Michael A. Calhoun said: “As Hurricane Irma moves closer to our state, I truly hope that everyone takes Gov. Rick Scott’s call to action seriously. The men and women of your Florida National Guard are ready and prepared to respond – are you?” He continued: “Irma is a very serious threat and you need to make sure your family is prepared with enough food, water, and essential supplies for at least three days. Have an evacuation plan – Where will you go? What is your route? Who will you keep updated? Your preparedness ensures that your Guard personnel and equipment can respond where the need is the greatest. We will be there to help, but I ask that you help us by being as ready as we are.”
Gen. Joseph Lengyel, chief of the National Guard Bureau, noted that more than 45,000 Guard members are engaged worldwide - including 1,200 fighting wildfires in California, Montana and Oregon, more than 19,000 Texas Guard and supporting states responding to Hurricane Harvey's devastation, and nearly 13,000 mobilised and supporting the combatant commands overseas.