Whenever a natural disaster strikes the country, the National Guard is among the first to arrive on the scene to help the victims. Throughout the years, the service members have aided in hurricanes, earthquakes, floods and more to evacuate citizens from dangerous circumstances and rescue those in need. Hurricane Ida was no different. Just as before, hundreds of Guardsmen arrived in Louisiana to assist with damage control. Unfortunately, these individuals became victims themselves in a car wreck during their duties.
While traveling southbound on Interstate 55, the National Guard convoy was cut off by a civilian vehicle that “darted out” near Interstate 220 in Ridgeland. The military vehicle slammed on its breaks, causing six other convoys to crash into one another. The civilian responsible for the accident left the scene. Unfortunately, it’s uncertain whether investigators were able to capture a description of the car before it fled, according to Ridgeland police Lt. Brian Myers.
Ten soldiers from the 223rd Engineer Battalion had to be transported to the hospital. They were a part of the 250 National Guard members present in Louisiana for relief efforts. Thankfully, their trip to the hospital was only a precautionary measure, since only one servicemember sustained minor injuries.
“They were all taken to the hospital for normal protocol procedures and medical evaluation,” Lt. Col. Diedre Smith, public affairs director for the Mississippi National Guard, told Fox News. “Our number priority is to make sure everyone was safe and OK after the accident. We are extremely grateful and thankful that these service members are not injured.”
National Guard Helps Victims of Hurricane Ida, Estimated $50 Billion in Damage
For about three hours after the accident, traffic on Interstate 55 remained congested. However, once towers arrived to transport the National Guard vehicles, the backup cleared. It is unknown whether the 10 Guardsmen involved will rejoin the relief efforts. Meanwhile, the remaining 240 service members are hard at work providing safety and comfort to the affected areas in the state.
“That’s what we do. We’re trying to help our neighbors,” Lt. Smith shared.
The National Guard arrived after Hurricane Ida could have caused over $50 million in damages, according to Associated Press. As of Wednesday, more than 989,000 homes and businesses remain without power. One resident of Plaquemines Parish, Gayle Lawrence, lost two cars, refrigerators and nearly everything in her garage because of the storm.
“The house is solid. It didn’t even move. But when the water came up, it destroyed everything,” Lawrence said.
Thankfully, the National Guard is there to assist flood victims like Lawrence with basic necessities. So far, the Guardsmen have supplied 141,000 meals, 37,777 gallons of water and more than 500 tarps in Louisiana. While the state works to restore power, New Orleans has opened several businesses to the public for access to air conditioning during the still sweltering heat.