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UpdateNational Guard activated for hurricane relief

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By Calen McKinney

About 350 Kentucky National Guard soldiers have been activated to help with Hurricane Gustav relief missions, including 51 from Campbellsville's unit.

According to a press release, Gov. Steven L. Beshear and Adj. Gen. Edward W. Tonini have directed the deployment of more than 350 troops, five Kentucky Army National Guard UH-60 Black Hawk and three OH-58 Kiowa helicopters to Louisiana.

Aircraft crews from the 63rd Theater Aviation Brigade left Sunday at the Army Aviation Support Facility located at Boone National Guard Center in Frankfort.

In addition, soldiers from the 1st Battalion, 623rd Field Artillery and 203rd Forward Support Co., with armories in Campbellsville, Glasgow, Tompkinsville, Monticello, Elizabethtown and Brandenburg, were ordered to active duty in support of Hurricane Gustav. They left Monday at 7 a.m.

According to Public Affairs Officer Col. Phil Miller, the group was halted in Tuscaloosa, Ala. and left Tuesday morning for Alexandria, La.

Miller said 51 of the 85 soldiers assigned to Campbellsville's National Guard unit have been activated. He said the soldiers were told to prepare to be in Louisiana for up to 15 days.

While in Louisiana, Miller said, the soldiers will provide security for evacuated Louisiana residents who have been cleared to return to their homes for their belongings.

As of Tuesday morning, Miller said, Hurricane Gustav had passed through Louisiana and was in eastern Texas. He said the hurricane's strength had weakened to the comparison of a tropical storm with heavy rainfall.

Miller said the hurricane left flooding in the Louisiana area, along with high winds and more than 1 million without power.

He said the soldiers will be briefed when arriving in Louisiana as to the risk involved with their security mission.

Miller said the length of the soldiers' stay in Louisiana depends on the weather and its effects and at what point Louisiana authorities say the situation is secure and the National Guard soldiers are no longer needed.

- Staff Writer Calen McKinney can be reached at 465-8111 Ext. 235 or by e-mail at reporter@cknj.com. Comment on this story at www.cknj.com.