Guardsmen from Ind. deployed to assist

Published 5:00 am Monday, September 19, 2005

In the days following Hurricane Katrina, members of the IndianaNational Guard have stood side by side with area emergencyofficials and authorities to provide assistance to residents whereneeded.

“The Indiana Guard is covering southern Mississippi,” said Lt.Joseph Garrison, executive officer for A Company, 2nd Battalion,152nd Infantry Regiment.

Garrison pointed out seven area counties where Indiana unitshave been working. As many as 160 guardsmen have been in the areasince Sept. 2 providing help in the relief effort.

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In Lincoln County, guardsmen have been helping local lawenforcement and civil defense volunteers with ice, water and mealdistribution, traffic control and security measures.

“We’ve had a good working relationship with them,” Garrisonsaid.

Brookhaven-Lincoln County Civil Defense Director Clifford Galeycommended the Indiana guard on a job well done.

“They were all very accommodating,” Galey said. “They dideverything we asked and worked many, many hours.”

The Indiana guardsmen also have worked with city and county lawenforcement to provide security at American Red Cross shelters.

“Depending on how many are staying at the shelters, we’ve triedto have a couple of guys 24 hours a day in the shelters,” Garrisonsaid. “We’ve gotten a lot of good response.”

Gail Lawson, shelter manager at Easthaven Baptist Church, saidthe guard’s presence has been calming for residents as well asvolunteers.

“Their presence has given everyone peace of mind and a settledfeeling,” Lawson said.

Garrison reported only minor incidents – mostly stress-related -at shelters and elsewhere.

“Luckily we haven’t had any looting,” said Garrison, mentioningonly a case of a suspicious vehicle having to be warned away afterentering the Easthaven parking lot late one night.

With some aspects of the the guard’s mission concluding, such aswater and ice distribution, Garrison and Galey said some units arestarting to be deployed elsewhere. Garrison said he expected theIndiana units to be in Mississippi about another week, but he hadnot received confirmation of those plans.

“Nothing’s official until it’s official,” Garrison said.