Kansas Guard Set to Help Gustav Victims

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ The first of two waves of Kansas National Guard units are leaving today to assist Gulf Coast states in recovering from Hurricane Gustav.

The units are heading to areas similar to where they deployed in 2005 following Katrina, which caused extensive damage to New Orleans and Mississippi. In all, some 600 Kansas Guard members were mobilized to help restore communications and direct relief efforts.

National Guard spokeswoman Sharon Watson said the mission was proceeding even though the damage from Gustav wasn't as severe as had been expected. The storm hit the Gulf Coast yesterday and was downgraded today to a tropical depression.

Watson said Kansas was also sending a high-tech vehicle to the Gulf Coast to assist with restoring and providing communications. The vehicle was put into service in May 2007 after a tornado wiped out much of Greensburg in southwest Kansas and destroyed much of the communications network.

Units mobilized for storm duty include the 35th Infantry Division from Fort Leavenworth; the 169th Corps Support Sustainment Battalion based in Olathe; about 350 members of the 2nd Battalion, 137th Infantry Division, based in Kansas City, Kansas; the 108th Aviation Battalion from Topeka.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)