National Guard ready to mobilize in Lake Charles

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LAKE CHARLES, La. (KLFY) — The Louisiana National Guard is ready to mobilize in the hardest-hit areas after Hurricane Laura blows through.

Heavy equipment is staged at the National Guard’s regional headquarters in Lake Charles. They’ll need it when servicing eight Louisiana parishes, including those under mandatory evacuation.

“Get out of Lake Charles and get out of Calcasieu Parish right now,” Lake Charles Mayor Nic Hunter pleaded with the public Tuesday. He said any moment deciding not to leave is a moment wasted.

Hurricane Laura is expected to bring 115 miles per hour winds and a storm surge as high as 19 feet Wednesday night into Thursday morning.

After shuttling people to northern shelters Tuesday, Calcasieu Parish authorities say Wednesday at noon is the latest anyone can safely leave.

“We’re not going to physically remove you from your house, but we want you to understand there will be a point when we cannot help you, and you are on your own,” explained Calcasieu Parish Sheriff Tony Mancuso.

For those who stay, the Louisiana National Guard is prepared to help. Major Jim Acosta shared his men have prepared since last week for Marco and Laura

“Phase one as you know is preparation, then we weather the storm, and once the bad weather goes away, we begin our search and rescue operations,” explained the Major.

Soldiers are equipped with boats, high water vehicles, humvees, and more which will be used to rescue people trapped in floodwaters.

“We are always one call away,” Acosta said. “We encourage people to call 911, and from 911 that’s where we get our dispatch.”

Meteorologists warn Laura could be the strongest Hurricane to hit Louisiana since Rita, but the Guard wants people to know they’re better prepared to handle it than ever.

“We take the lesson learned from every single storm, and we just keep building, so that we’re more prepared for the next,” Acosta encouraged.

Well over 100 guardsmen and women from all parts of Louisiana were in attendance for a safety briefing Tuesday afternoon where they received their assignments. They say they are ready to work their hardest to keep their neighbors, friends, and family safe.

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