Gov. DeWine authorizes deployment of Ohio National Guard to assist Puerto Rico following earthquakes
Story by Governor’s Office of Communications
COLUMBUS, Ohio (01/16/20)
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine issued a proclamation Jan. 16 authorizing specified members of the Ohio National Guard to provide emergency aid to the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico after a series of powerful earthquakes caused massive destruction and widespread power outages.
Beginning on Dec. 28, the U.S. territory experienced hundreds of earthquakes, culminating in a 6.4 magnitude earthquake on Jan. 7, 2020, and multiple aftershocks, near Guanica on the island’s southwestern coast.
Puerto Rico’s governor declared a state of emergency due to the widespread damage and utility disruption.
“I have authorized the mobilization of the Ohio National Guard to provide emergency assistance until basic services in the impacted areas are restored,” DeWine said. “I have instructed Ohio’s adjutant general to take whatever actions are necessary to assist local authorities to protect the lives, safety, health and property of citizens affected by these devastating earthquakes.”
The Ohio Air National Guard’s 200th RED HORSE (Rapid Engineer Deployable Heavy Operational Repair Squadron Engineer) Squadron will support earthquake relief efforts by establishing two Disaster Relief Bed-down Systems (DRBS), which are deployable kits capable of providing basic housing and life support facilities, such as tents, showers and latrines, for up to 150 military personnel responding to the disaster.
“Disaster relief missions and supporting our homeland is why America has a National Guard to call when the nation and her citizens need us most. Our Ohio Air National Guard Airmen at the 200th RED HORSE Squadron are ready and anxious to support earthquake relief efforts in Puerto Rico. This is what we do,” said Maj. Gen. John C. Harris Jr., Ohio adjutant general.
The 200th RED HORSE, headquartered in Port Clinton, Ohio, with a detachment in Mansfield, Ohio, is equipped to provide engineering, construction and logistics capabilities worldwide on short notice.
“Being able to support another state for domestic response is exciting,” said Col. Michael Hrynciw, 200th RED HORSE commander. “We train for this all the time in support of our friends and neighbors. The Ohio National Guard leads the way in helping others.”
DeWine’s proclamation allows the Ohio National Guard unit to remain on active duty until the disaster recovery assistance is complete and an emergency no longer exists. About 25 Airmen will be deployed for up to 90 days to establish and operate two DRBS units.
The Ohio National Guard is deploying the equipment and personnel as part of the Emergency Management Assistance Compact, which allows states to send personnel, equipment and commodities to assist with response and recovery efforts in other states or territories.
In 2017, the 200th RED HORSE sent a team with a DRBS to St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, following Hurricane Irma. The Airmen operated in austere environments to provide basic life needs to military personnel supporting the recovery mission there.