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Indiana National Guard soldiers go to Florida for hurricane relief

SHELBYVILLE, Ind. (WISH) — Even more Hoosier helpers were on their way Thursday to Florida to assist in Hurricane Ian relief efforts.

More than a dozen Indiana National Guard soldiers set off Thursday morning. “They’re just in a bad situation in Florida right now, and we have the time and resources here in Indiana to help out, so it feels good to be able to help the community,” said Matthew Fisher, a pilot with the Indiana National Guard.

Several Indiana National Guard soldiers with the 38th Infantry Division’s aviation brigade boarded two UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters with the goal to assist military and civilian agencies. They’ll be joined by three flight crews and mechanics.

Maj. Johnathan Robertson of the Indiana National Guard said, “With some of the power outages and things like that, you know, people might not have access to necessary items needed for survival like water, things like that.”

A lot of work is ahead for these soldiers. They’ll use the helicopters to help people.

Robertson said, “Some of these areas you can’t necessarily get to them by ground vehicles or it might be a little bit slower by boat or something like that. Getting there through the air in the helicopter, it gives that much-needed reprise.”

The helicopters can carry about 9,000 pounds of goods including water, food and medical supplies.

Fisher said, “I’d say I’m excited. This is something we train for weekly and daily, something we think about, and it feels good to be able to put all that training to come to fruition and will help out people that need it.”

But, there are some challenges ahead for these soldiers. Robertson noted “any kind of hazard on the ground, going into unknown locations, things like that.

“We want to be sure that we’re looking at all our landing sites.”

Robertson added, “What we do as a nation when bad things happen or disaster strikes we always come together and lend a helping hand, and I’m just proud to be part of that mission.”

The soldiers say they plan to arrive Friday in Tampa, Florida. They will first arrive late Thursday in southern Alabama.