Military to Aid with Storm Relief; Assets 'Ready' for Deployment in Hurricanes
Byline: Audrey Hudson, THE WASHINGTON TIMES
Federal officials are employing numerous military resources in preparation for the 2006 hurricane season, with the hope of avoiding a repeat of last year's disastrous response to Hurricane Katrina that devastated the Gulf Coast.
The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD)/U.S. Northern Command and the National Guard will be first-responders if storms strike, according to the National Hurricane Center. The center predicts as many as 10 hurricanes this season, which begins June 1.
Paul McHale, assistant secretary of defense for homeland defense, calls the coordination historic and says officials already have been assigned full time to the Federal Emergency Management Agency's 10 regional offices.
"[The Defense Department] has tremendous assets to bring to bear in order to assist that civilian-led response to any major disaster that might occur, including a hurricane during the next several months," Mr. McHale said. "Those assets have now been identified; those assets are ready for deployment. We are better prepared than at any point in our nation's history to move that assistance as rapidly as is humanly possible."
The multiagency response was outlined yesterday at a press conference lead by Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, along with Mr. …