Region 8 Residents Head to Coast for Relief Effort

AUGUST 30, 2005 - Posted at 10:55 a.m. CDT;  Updated August 30, 2005-- 5:00 pm CDT

JONESBORO, AR - At the direction of Governor Huckabee, the Arkansas National Guard has called approximately 350 personnel to state active duty to assist with hurricane relief efforts in Mississippi, and most of those "citizen soldiers" will heed the call to duty from Northeast Arkansas.

A Guard task force is scheduled to begin deploying today to an initial staging area at Camp Shelby near Hattiesburg, Mississippi, and is expected to be mobilized for 10 to 14 days, or longer as needed.

The majority of the task force will be comprised of soldiers from the 875th Engineer Battalion in Jonesboro, the 1123rd Transportation Company in Marked Tree, and the 216th Military Police Company in West Memphis.  Also, the 35th Aviation Brigade based at Camp Robinson in North Little Rock, will dispatch two UH-60 Medevac Blackhawk helicopters for search and rescue missions.

Working with the Mississippi National Guard, the Arkansas task force may perform such missions as clean-up and debris removal, medical support, assistance to local law enforcement and general humanitarian aid.  Soldiers will employ a large number of vehicles and equipment, including HMMWVs, dump trucks, five-ton trucks, tractor trailers, generators and lights.

Craighead Electric will also send three crews, which breaks down to 15 men and six trucks, just North of New Orleans to help power up the grid.  While the Arkansas National Guard plans to stay for just over a week and a half, guys from Craighead Electric plan to be helping out for more than a month.

Craighead Electric officials say the teams departure will not effect their local services.  Adding that is the job of electric coops, to work together in times of crisis.

(K8 News Assignment Manager Randy Myers contributed to this report.)