FORT MYERS, Fla. (WATE) — Aircrews from the Tennessee National Guard’s 1-230th Assault Helicopter Battalion continue to help Floridians in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian.
Three UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters from Nashville and Jackson, Tenn., are in Fort Myers assisting with rescue and recovery efforts. The aircrew traveled to Tallahassee last Wednesday, and once the hurricane passed through Florida, they flew farther south.
The aircraft’s crew have been hard at work airlifting food, water and other supplies to Sanibel, Pine and Captiva Islands southwest of Fort Myers. According to the National Guard, the islands suffered severe storm damage and with the Matlacha Bridge and Sanibel Causeway being destroyed, residents are stranded on the islands.
“We are focusing our efforts on Pine and Sanibel Islands, supporting local first responders with supply transport and the deployment of equipment to establish mobile cell phone towers,” said Capt. Dan Fuentes, commander of Tennessee’s helicopter task force. “On multiple occasions, we’ve been able to evacuate citizens trapped on either of the two islands and get them to safety.”
In addition, the Tennesseans are taking specially trained K-9 urban search and rescue teams into remote areas to help rescue people trapped by the debris.
“The Tennessee National Guard and the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency have once again stepped up with unbelievable speed which exhibits the true volunteer legacy,” said Maj. Gen. Jeff Holmes, Tennessee adjutant general. “This would not have been possible without the support of the community, our families, and our employers.”
Last week, 1,200 Guardsmen were authorized to assist with preparation and recovery efforts as Florida braced for Hurricane Ian. A part of those Guard members have finished their mission and returned home to Tennessee.