Florida National Guard Prepares for Tropical Storm Fay

By John Myatt
Special to American Forces Press Service

TALLAHASSEE, Fla., Aug. 18, 2008 - The Florida National Guard activated about 125 soldiers and airmen for its planning cells and alerted other units in preparation for Tropical Storm Fay as the storm approached Cuba over the weekend.

The Joint Emergency Operations Center was activated in St. Augustine, unit planning cells were established across the state, and senior leaders were moved to the State Emergency Operations Center here as Florida Gov. Charlie Crist signed an executive order Aug. 16 to support operations in advance of Tropical Storm Fay.

The executive order placed the Florida National Guard under control of the state coordinating officer and allows the Florida adjutant general to preposition Guard units prior to the storm making landfall.

Earlier today, the National Hurricane Center issued an advisory for Tropical Storm Fay, which was located 70 miles south of Key West, Fla. The center of the storm is expected to be near the Florida Keys this afternoon and near the southwestern coast of Florida's peninsula tomorrow. Maximum sustained winds are reported near 60 mph, with higher gusts.

Fay is forecast to become a hurricane as it nears the southwestern Florida coast tomorrow. The Florida Keys and portions of southern Florida could receive up to 10 inches of rain over the next 24 hours, according to the center.

While activated for state duty, the Florida National Guard will serve in support of the Florida Division of Emergency Management.

"It's important for the people of Florida to know the citizen-soldiers and -airmen of the Florida National Guard are prepared to respond to Tropical Storm Fay as assigned by the Florida Division of Emergency Management," Army Maj. Gen. Douglas Burnett, the adjutant general of Florida, said. "The National Guard is poised to provide humanitarian aid, security, equipment, debris removal and search and rescue assistance."

The Florida National Guard has more than 9,000 soldiers and airmen available who can respond to various and simultaneous emergencies in Florida, including efforts to deter terrorist-related activities.

"The Guard has continuous contact and coordination in effect with the Florida Division of Emergency Management in Tallahassee and has established planning cells to ensure a rapid build-up of personnel and equipment if needed," said Air Force Lt. Col. Ron Tittle, the Florida Guard's chief spokesman. "We have much experience in responding to emergencies and we will continue to rise to the occasion."

Florida National Guard soldiers and airmen are trained and equipped for a wide range of life support, security and public safety missions, he added.

If needed, the Florida National Guard can request additional personnel and resources from other states through the National Guard Bureau, as part of the Emergency Management Assistance Compact, Tittle said.

(John Myatt works for the Florida National Guard.)

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Florida National Guard Prepares for Tropical Storm Fay [ ]