SANTA ROSA BEACH, Fla. – More than 75 members of the Florida National Guard responded to assist with flooding in Florida's Panhandle yesterday, including working with civilian first-responders in areas flooded during recent storms.
Yesterday morning, Florida Gov. Rick Scott declared a state of emergency in 26 counties due to recent inundations of torrential rain.
Soldiers from the 144th Transportation Company and the 779th Engineering Company arrived in Escambia, Santa Rosa and Walton Counties with 24 high-water trucks and other support vehicles Wednesday afternoon at the direction of the Florida Division of Emergency Management.
Army Spc. James Knight with the 114th Transportation Company was one of the soldiers assisting local law enforcement and emergency services last night, driving members of the local fire rescue team through flooded neighborhoods and roads in the Guard's 5-ton trucks.
"We can go a lot of places that they can't, and can carry any people and equipment that they might need in those areas," explained Knight, who was one of the more than 50 soldiers assigned to vehicle support.
The Florida National Guard can mobilize about 9,000 personnel to perform a range of emergency management services from search and rescue, to area security and logistics support. Their essential tasks under the direction of emergency managers are: protect life and property; maintain peace, order and public safety; and provide support to local, state and federal emergency responders.