Gov. Scott: Half of available Florida National Guard activated for Hurricane Matthew
Florida Gov. Rick Scott on Thursday activated another 2,000 National Guard members — making for 3,500 members activated as of the afternoon, about half of what is available for deployment, Scott spokeswoman Jackie Schutz said.
Activated members include both soldiers and airmen, with search and rescue teams awaiting Hurricane Matthew in West Palm Beach and Orlando, said Air Force Maj. Caitlin Brown of the Florida National Guard. Other troops were at Camp Blanding near Starke, Fla.
Scott has authorized the mobilization of up to 6,600 Guard, if need be, Schutz said. Brown said the Guard has nearly 2,500 “high water vehicles,” eight helicopters, 17 boats and more than 700 generators that could be used in emergency operations, she added. The Guard also evacuated its “F-15 fleet out of the path of the storm.”
"Protecting lives remains our No. 1 priority and that is why I have now activated over half of the National Guard who will play a big role in important life-saving missions," Scott said in a statement Thursday afternoon. "I have directed them to focus on prepositioning resources, assist with helping people evacuate safely and our sheltering operations. In the immediate aftermath of the storm, they will be involved in recovery efforts including search and rescue missions. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission also has high-water vehicles prepositioned across the state to help with these efforts."
"While the federal government has just approved our request for a pre-landfall emergency declaration for food, water and tarps, I am asking the President for additional generators and pumps to help with power outages and flooding once the storm hits," Scott added. "Following the most recent weather briefing from the National Hurricane Center, we can expect to have a lot of flooding, especially in Northeast Florida, and we will need additional pumping equipment from the federal government.”