SPRINGFIELD – Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today announced he has activated an Illinois National Guard helicopter and its crew to help with Hurricane Gustav relief efforts in Louisiana.
“As we did during Hurricane Katrina, Illinois is ready and eager to help the Gulf Coast states prepare for and respond to Hurricane Gustav,” said Governor Blagojevich. “The Illinois National Guard was a critical part of our response to Katrina in 2005, when we sent more than 1,100 troops to the region.”
The helicopter support was requested by the State of Louisiana through the Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC), a mutual aid agreement, signed by all 50 states, that facilitates states assisting other states during emergencies.
On Friday, the Illinois Army National Guard began mobilizing a CH-47D “Chinook” helicopter and its crew to deploy to Louisiana. The helicopter and crew from Company B, 2nd Battalion, 238th Medium Lift Aviation of Peoria, are slated to perform search and rescue missions, air movement of critical supplies, evacuation missions and sand-bagging of levee breaches. The CH-47D Chinook is a versatile, twin-engine, tandem rotor heavy-lift helicopter used primarily for troop movement, artillery emplacement and battlefield resupply.
“This is part of an agreement that has been in place for many years, which is in place to help our neighbors in their time of need,” said Maj. Gen. William Enyart, the Illinois National Guard Adjutant General. “I’m proud that my soldiers can take part in this emergency relief effort. This kind of quick response to emergencies wouldn’t be possible without the help and support of Governor Blagojevich as well as Illinois Emergency Management Agency Director Andrew Velasquez III and his terrific team.”
Officials from the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) are maintaining regular contact with EMAC to determine if there are any other requests for assistance Illinois can fill.
In 2005, Governor Blagojevich directed the deployment of more than 2,500 Illinois responders to the Gulf Coast following Hurricane Katrina, including:
- More than 1,100 Illinois National Guard troops
- Nearly 1,000 firefighters, paramedics and essential fire support equipment
- More than 300 local, county and state law enforcement officers and equipment
- A 50-member Illinois Medical Emergency Response Team (IMERT) made up of doctors, nurses and other medical personnel
- More than 30 local and state emergency managers
- More than 100 state employees and vital telecommunications equipment