Gov. DeWine sends Ohio Air National Guard unit to Puerto Rico to help recovery

Gov. DeWine sends Ohio Air National Guard unit to Puerto Rico to help recovery
An Ohio National Guard unit is being deployed to Puerto Rico to help the people there in their continuing recovery from earthquakes in 2019. This photo shows "Campamento Estrella 68," a family of residents in the town of Guayanilla on the southern coast, whose houses were damaged by an earthquake that forced them to sleep outdoors. Hundreds, if not thousands, of Puerto Ricans have been sleeping outside since a series of earthquakes began hitting the island Dec. 28, 2019. (Pedro Portal/Miami Herald/TNS)

A Ohio Air National Guard squadron is being deployed to the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico to help that U.S. territory in its continuing effort to recovery from earthquakes and aftershocks that devastated the island's southwestern coast in December 2019.

Gov. Mike DeWine issued a proclamation Thursday authorizing specified members of the Ohio Air National Guard 200th RED HORSE (Rapid Engineer Deployable Heavy Operational Repair Squadron Engineer), headquartered out of Port Clinton, Ohio, with a detachment in Mansfield.

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The unit is equipped to provide engineering, construction and logistics capabilities worldwide on short notice.

"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 in a prepared statement.

"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 200th RED HORSE Squadron will support earthquake relief efforts by establishing two Disaster Relief Bed-down Systems, 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.

“This is what we do,” said Maj. Gen. John C. Harris Jr., the Ohio adjutant general.

Col. Michael Hrynciw, commander of the 200th RED HORSE Squadron, said, “We train for this all the time in support of our friends and neighbors. The Ohio National Guard leads the way in helping others.”

The proclamation allows the unit to remain on active duty until the disaster recovery assistance is complete and an emergency no longer exists.

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.