Delaware National Guard standing by

The Delaware National Guard is standing by, waiting to hear what its role will be for Hurricane Irene.

The Delaware Army National Guard and the Delaware Air National Guard are making about 1,500 troops and 140 vehicles available to support relief efforts in or outside of Delaware.

“We’re flexible, whatever’s needed, depending upon the weather,” said Tech. Sgt. Benjamin Matwey, Public Affairs Specialist with the Delaware Air National Guard. “Mother Nature is ruling the show right now. We’ll see what happens.”

The troops could be used to aid in evacuations, fill and deliver sandbags, support law enforcement and fire and emergency medical services, or a number of other duties. They’re just waiting for word from Gov. Jack Markell to be called into active duty.

“Several hundred have already gone through the proper steps to get ready,” Matwey said. “They’ve gone through all their briefings and their medical checks and everything else, anticipating that they’re going to be put to use in the next 48 hours.”

The equipment includes 80 humvees, several Black Hawk helicopters and C-130 planes. The C-130s have already left Delaware for Ohio as a precaution to protect against possible damage from the hurricane.

Matwey says the Delaware National Guard’s Joint Operations Center in Wilmington will be monitoring the situation around the clock to help get aid where it’s needed most.

“They may need to go to North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, somewhere else besides Delaware,” Matwey said. “We’ve done it before for Hurricane Katrina and many other missions. So we have to have them ready.”

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