Macon, Ga., Sep. 28, 2017 – When Hurricane Irma ripped through the southeast United States in September, Soldiers from the Georgia State Defense Force readily stepped up to assist in relief efforts surrounding the most intense Atlantic hurricane to strike the country in more than a decade.
Hurricane Irma was the most intense Atlantic hurricane to hit the United States since Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Hurricane Irma’s impact prompted Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal to declare a state of emergency for all 159 counties.
Gov. Deal also authorized thousands of Georgia National Guardsmen to respond to the disaster. GSDF deployed its Soldiers to serve alongside them.
By the time Hurricane Irma reached metropolitan Atlanta, it had been downgraded from a Category 5 storm. However, the hurricane had already caused devastation in southern Georgia and in Florida. Hundreds of Floridians had evacuated their homes, many fleeing to Georgia for refuge. Throughout the storm and in its aftermath, GSDF Soldiers performed various duties, including crowd control, supply distribution, and logistical support.
From Operation Vigilant Guard to Hurricane Irma
In March, GSDF Soldiers participated in a multi-state, multi-day training exercise known as Vigilant Guard. The U.S. Northern Command, in conjunction with the National Guard Bureau, sponsored this joint regional exercise. The exercise occurred at multiple Georgia locations.
“The Vigilant Guard 2017 multi-jurisdiction exercise earlier this year was an excellent training opportunity that prepared me for my role in the Joint Operations Center,” said Spc. Alexander Davidson, Non-Commissioned Officer-in- Charge, GSDF Public Affairs Office. “We train for these type of catastrophic events. When Hurricane Irma struck, GSDF Soldiers were prepared to do our part to aid in the response and recovery.”
Ready to Serve
GSDF Soldiers continued to assist in hurricane relief efforts during the week after the storm made landfall, living up to “Parati Servire,” the Latin phrase for “Ready to Serve” that GSDF Soldiers wear on their uniforms. Brig. Gen. Tom Danielson, GSDF Commander, commended GSDF Soldiers who volunteered during Hurricane Irma.
“It’s part of our dedication, our commitment, and our readiness to serve,” he said.