Kentucky sending guard members to Texas in case hurricane hits

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - Kentucky will dispatch two National Guard
helicopters along with 18 guard members to Texas, which is bracing for a major hurricane.

Maj. Gen. Donald C. Storm, Kentucky's adjutant general, said Saturday that the two UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters will leave early Monday for Austin. The aircraft plus the 18 soldiers - 12 aircrew and six support personnel - will leave from the Boone National Guard Center in Frankfort.

The helicopters can assist by providing air ambulance and rescue
operations if Hurricane Dean slams into Texas, said Col. Phil Miller, a Kentucky guard spokesman.

The assistance was requested by Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Texas' adjutant general as part of an emergency mutual assistance compact among states.

The Kentucky troops and aircraft will report to Austin, where the Kentuckians will receive assignments from Texas Guard leaders
if the hurricane hits, Miller said.

"We are prepared and capable to provide other types of support," he said Saturday.

People along the Gulf Coast were keeping a wary eye on Hurricane
Dean, which blew through the Caribbean on Saturday with top sustained wind strength of 150 mph. Forecasters said the storm
could threaten the United States by Wednesday.

In 2005, about 1,500 Kentucky guardsmen were sent to the Gulf Coast to assist Louisiana and Mississippi in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Miller said. The Kentuckians ran rescue operations in New Orleans and set up and operated helicopter landing zones in that devastated city. Other Kentucky guardsmen provided security and delivered supplies as part of the relief effort.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

AP-NY-08-18-07 1707EDT

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