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Archive for Friday, August 29, 2008

Kansans called to Gulf Coast

August 29, 2008

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— Kansans are heading to Mississippi in the coming days to help officials there prepare for Hurricane Gustav.

Sharon Watson, spokeswoman for the adjutant general's department, said Thursday that Mississippi had requested five staff members to help with emergency preparedness and response as the storm approached the U.S. Gulf Coast.

Watson said two state emergency management staff members and three volunteers from incident management teams would be leaving Friday and Saturday.

In addition, the 190th Air Refueling Wing and the 108th Aviation Battalion, both based at Topeka's Forbes Field, were alerted that they may be called to assist.

Gustav is expected to enter the Gulf of Mexico and could make landfall as a Category 3 hurricane early next week.

Kansas officials from the Highway Patrol, Kansas National Guard and Kansas Department of Emergency Management met Thursday to discuss additional response to Gustav and the newly formed Hanna further out in the Atlantic.

It is expected that Gulf Coast states will request trucks, medical equipment and additional staff, similar to 2005 when Katrina and Rita struck.

Maj. Gen. Tod Bunting said Kansas was preparing necessary paperwork in advance to expedite any requests for assistance.

"We have staff monitoring the situation throughout the holiday weekend," said Bunting, state adjutant general and director of the Kansas Division of Emergency Management. "We learned a lot from Hurricane Katrina. One key lesson was 'Get ahead of the curve."'

In 2005, Kansas sent several National Guard and emergency management teams to Louisiana and Mississippi, including the headquarters of the 35th Infantry Division, to coordinate relief efforts. A mobile hospital was sent to Bay St. Louis, Miss., after the city's facilities were damaged by the storm.

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