Local Mississippi National Guard members to assist with Florence recovery efforts

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MERIDIAN, Miss. (WTOK) - About 40 Mississippi Air National Guard service members from Key Field are gearing up to help those in the path of Hurricane Florence. The members will be providing support for whatever local, state and federal agencies in the affected areas request.

“Our main mission is to go down to Tyndall Air Force Base and to support a coordination element,” says Dusty Culpepper, the public affairs officer for the186th Air Operations Group. “So what that means is we try to get air force assets to the impacted area at the right place at the right time to help the people that are actually the boots on the ground and responding.”

All hands are on deck when it comes to responding for this potentially devastating hurricane.

“I think it’s important for the National Guard, both Mississippi and really all over the United States to be able to respond; we are citizens helping citizens,” Culpepper says.

Officials with the Mississippi National Guard say they are more than prepared to deal with whatever Florence may bring.

“This is something that we are very, very familiar with,” Culpepper says. “We are very much in the same situation last year in response to Hurricane’s Harvey, Irma, and Maria… We actually trained just this past May on a hurricane impact on the East Coast that was very, very similar to what Hurricane Florence is bringing so we are trained- this is what we do.”

According to the AP, two swift water rescue teams are being sent to Virginia in case of major flooding. These teams consist of firefighters from 22 different communities across Mississippi.

Two CH-47 Chinook helicopters will be provided by Meridian's Company B, 1st Battalion, 111th Aviation Regiment.