TRENTON, NJ (CBS) — A small contingent from the New Jersey National Guard should be on the ground late Thursday in Houston to aid in rescue efforts in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. But thousands more are on stand by just in case.
A dozen members with the 177th Air Fighter Wing, based in Pomona, volunteered for the mission and departed yesterday. They’re trained in aerial rescue. according to New Jersey National Guard spokesman Kryn Westhoven.
“We actually did an exercise last year down in Sandy Hook practicing that, pulling people off of roofs,” New Jersey National Guard spokesman Kryn Westhoven told KYW Newsradio. “So they are really prepared to do this type of mission.”
The state is prepared to send up to 35 hundred more Guard members, if the Governor of Texas requests them. They could be in place in as little as three days.
Many of them helped to provide security after Superstorm Sandy in 2012. About 100 of them served in Louisiana in the days following Hurricane Katrina.
“We do have a lot of experience amongst our troops out there throughout New Jersey,” Westhoven added, “and we are ready to serve in whatever capacity we might be needed.”
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie expects that request because if Sandy is any indicator, once the waters go down in Texas, looters may come out. In fact, Houston has already imposed an overnight curfew as a precaution.