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24 Michigan National Guard members deploy to Texas, more on standby

National Guardsmen pulling people onto boat.
Army National Guard photo by Capt. Martha Nigrelle
Members of the Texas National Guard respond to Houston residents impacted by Hurricane Harvey.

The Michigan National Guard is deploying 24 guardsmen and three helicopters — two CH-47 Chinooks, and one UH-72 Lakota — to Texas on Thursday to assist with Hurricane Harvey rescue and relief efforts. Approximately 350 additional guardsmen are on standby.

“They’re expected to provide hoist recovery and evacuation,” said Lt. Cl. Dawn Dancer, spokesperson for the Michigan National Guard, referring to the ground and aircrew departing Thursday.

Dancer says the Michigan National Guard has also been told it may need to deploy an infantry battalion later in the month. "But for now there’s no expectation that they’re going to be out the door in the immediate future," she said. 

Most of the 24 guardsmen deploying this week are from the Lansing and Grand Ledge areas, Dancer says, as well as several coming from the Selfridge Air National Guard base in Macomb County. They’ve been told to expect a 30 to 60 day deployment, though that’s just an estimate at this point.

Dancer says the Michigan National Guard has had similar deployments before.

“At this scale, we’re not up to the scale of Katrina, but during the Katrina response every state in the nation sent resources,” she says. “And in the case of Texas, we know that Texas is gonna be in it for the long haul, and we’re expecting that the Texas National Guard [will] reach out and ask for additional support. So we continue to be on standby and whatever we can possibly give them, we’re going to be there to help them out.”

This kind of work can be dangerous, Dancer says, but this is the kind of work that guardsmen are ready to do.

“We’re uniquely trained for emergencies like this because we have worked and trained with…emergency responders for numerous situations, literally for decades. So we’ve been in the kind of situation before, and many of our soliders responded for Hurricane Katrina relief, so we have that kind of experience, and we’re perfectly situated to help," she said. 

Thousands of Texas National Guard members have already been deployed in the Houston area, and the Coast Guard emergency phones are reporting over 1,000 calls received per hour, according to the National Guard. 

Kate Wells is a Peabody Award-winning journalist currently covering public health. She was a 2023 Pulitzer Prize finalist for her abortion coverage.
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