La. National Guard returns from relief effort in Puerto Rico
BATON ROUGE - More than 300 National Guard soldiers and airmen returned to Louisiana after a month-long deployment in Puerto Rico to assist with hurricane recovery.
Personnel were sent to assist with the island’s recovery efforts in the aftermath of Hurricanes Irma and Maria, which struck in September. Puerto Rico received sustained winds of 155 miles per hour, making Maria the fifth strongest hurricane to ever hit the United States.
The storm knocked out 1,360 out of 1,600 cell phone towers and damaged 80 percent of the island’s power transmission lines which are expected to be out for months. Further complicating issues, many roads were damaged making it difficult to travel or transport critical supplies.
Once on the island, soldiers cleared more than 200 fallen trees and freed roads of debris. The engineers also moved 900 tons of gravel to build dams and built 40 concrete poles to help Puerto Rican electrical companies begin rebuilding their power grid. They also helped restore running water by removing debris from water channels.