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La. National Guard Soldiers ready staging areas with water, MREs ahead of Hurricane Laura

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ROSELAND – Soldiers with the Louisiana National Guard and supplies from FEMA have been staged across the state as residents brace for the impacts of Hurricane Laura.

The La. National Guard is playing a huge role in handling and getting water and meals ready to eat, or MRE’s, to where they are needed.

Thousands of soldiers guard have already been working around the state for the past few months. They’ve been tasked with storing and shipping personal protective equipment to hospitals and other agencies.

But now, they’re having to split their efforts between COVID-19 and hurricane Laura.

A total of 35 FEMA tractor trailers, filled from top to bottom with water and MRE’s, are currently being staged at a remote warehouse facility in Roseland.

“165 CSSV, our primary mission is to ensure commodities distribution throughout the state during an all-hazards event,” Lt. Col. Joseph Barnett said.

Soldiers are spread out between this location in Tangipahoa Parish and another facility in central Louisiana. On Tuesday, trucks were lined up and filled up so that they’re ready to move the massive amount of supplies in a moments notice.

“Currently, we’re prepared to distribute 471,000 MRE’s and 1.2 million bottles of water from those two different locations,” Barnett said. “What we essentially do is we supply pods as requested. We also do what we call hot shot missions. So we can quickly, rapidly respond to a need anywhere in the state of louisiana with very short notice and rapidly.”

This new mission, responding to the storm, is not unlike the PPE distribution warehouse facilities that the guard has operated 24/7 since early April.

Sgt. J'Cobby Bates says he’s worked multiple distastes over the last 10 plus years, but this duel mission dealing with COVID and Laura is a new challenge.

“I think we are postured and ready to handle whatever comes our way as we have been in the past. We’ve been taking all the proper measures to deal with COVID and the hurricane at the same time,” Bates said.

Bates deals directly with supply logistics, making sure soldiers are fed and trucks are gassed up before taking off. It’s something he takes very seriously.

“I mean, to keep our citizens you know fed and keep them hydrated throughout this tough time. Because you never know what can happen. So, I think keeping those trucks on the road to get to them to all our different sites i think is very important that they do that,” Bates said.

Any supplies that are not used in responding to Hurricane Laura will be brought back to storage for future use.


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