In the Wake of Hurricane Ida, the National Guard Can Rely on USO for Comforts of Home

By Sandi Gohn

The last few days of August mean the beginning of a new school year, the bittersweet end of warmer weather and, unfortunately, the start of the most active part of hurricane season – a fact those living along the U.S. East and Gulf Coasts know all too well.

In 2021 alone, there have been 11 named tropical cyclones, including Hurricane Ida, which made landfall at Port Fourchon, Louisiana, on August 29, 2021, as a strong Category 4 storm. Notably, Ida made landfall on the 16th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina’s landfall in 2005.

Coast Guard and National Guard Activated as Hurricane Ida Makes Landfall

Since making landfall, Ida has moved northwest and has been downgraded to a tropical depression, but the damage caused by the powerful storm remains, particularly in the coastal Mississippi and Louisiana communities along its path.

Thousands of National Guard members – including 4,900 from Louisiana and others from Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee and Texashave been activated to help local authorities with search and rescue, cleanup and other critical post-storm operations.

Photo credit Louisiana National Guard

Louisiana National Guard members in high-water vehicles and boats work with St. John the Baptist Parish officials to rescue people stranded in their homes in the wake of Hurricane Ida.

Coast Guard members, too, have been busy at work in the wake of Ida and have been conducting flyovers to assess storm damage in addition to performing search and rescues.

Many of these dedicated service members have selflessly left their families and homes at a moment’s notice – amidst a global pandemic – all to support their communities in a time of need.

Thanks to contributions from supporters like you, the USO is able to deploy in the wake of the storm to provide a bit of home to the thousands of troops activated for Hurricane Ida relief efforts. It’s something we’ve been doing for years and are quite proud of – and we are ready to do it again.

Supporting Them Where They Go: USO Teams Head to the Disaster Zone

Over the last few days, Mobile USO team members have been preparing to head into the disaster zone to support hardworking service members as soon as they are cleared to enter into the area by local authorities.

Photo credit USO

Supplies for a USO vehicle before it heads into the wake of Hurricane Ida.

Currently, there are six USO staff members busy stocking and preparing three Mobile USO vehicles – essentially USO centers on wheels – with everything they need to create a “home away from home” atmosphere wherever they are sent. Mobile USOs provide a place for troops to relax, connect with loved ones and recharge during downtime. Each Mobile USO offers free amenities like Wi-Fi (even in the middle of nowhere!), laptops, large screen televisions and movies, video games, comfy seats and more.

A USO staff member holds a USO Care Package during preparations to deploy to the wake of Hurricane Ida. | Photo credit USO

Often, Mobile USO staffers will also have USO Toiletry Packs or Snack Packs on hand to give to troops, many of whom had little time to pack personal care items ahead of their rapid deployment. These innovative care packages are constructed with a durable, tan, nylon material that has a M.O.L.L.E. system on the back for attachment to most military issued gear, which is perfect for a deployed National Guard member on-the-go.

The USO is planning to provide this, along with other critical support, to service members stepping up in the wake of Hurricane Ida. Although the full scope of the damage caused by Ida remains uncertain, the USO stands ready and prepared to serve any Guard, Reserve or active duty troops tapped to help with hurricane relief efforts.

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As the COVID-19 outbreak is evolving, the USO has pivoted resources across the entire global enterprise in an approach that helps care for military members and their families.

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