DAVENPORT, Iowa -- Iowans are already stepping up to help people affected by Hurricane Irma. Members of the Iowa National Guard are en route to Florida to help with recovery.
"Keep an open mind, you know, expect the unexpected. And you just don't know, you're going into the unknown. So it's just important, I think, no matter what you see, safety is always the priority,” said Scott Millman of the Iowa National Guard.
The soldiers took off from Davenport Aviation Facility. For some, this is their first deployment to a natural disaster, and they heard of their assignment less than a day ago. The group will be flying four helicopters that will be stationed in South Carolina and Mississippi. This is all possible under the Emergency Management Assistance Compact, after Florida requested support from Iowa.
Soldiers will be standing by to assist in search and rescue operations. Colonel Hapgood says Iowa has some of the most specialized aviation assets in the country.
“You know, you wear the patch that represents the state of Iowa and the Iowa National Guard on your left sleeve when you wear this uniform, and that means a great deal to us. We have a huge amount of pride. So for us to get to go operate in that environment is just an extension of that pride," Colonel Hapgood said.
Soldiers who left on Monday are prepared for a more than 10-day deployment.