From Harvey to Irma: Ohio Army National Guardsmen leave to help more victims

GREEN, Ohio -- More than a dozen local Ohio Army National Guardsmen are deploying to help in areas hit by Hurricane Irma, just days after some of them returned from Texas where they participated in the recovery from Hurricane Harvey.

Fourteen soldiers in two Chinook helicopters departed from the Army Aviation Support Facility at the Akron -Canton Airport Monday afternoon. They planned to travel to Columbia, South Carolina before continuing on to Florida as weather conditions allowed.

“We're basically flying into the hurricane so we have to be evaluating that the whole time we're in flight to see if we're going to be able to get into Columbia or adjust the flight, or see if we get in there and can't proceed forward until the next day,” said Lt. Col. John Kenneth Whitney.

They expect their work could include refueling other helicopters and helping to transport people, food and other supplies.

Many of the same soldiers returned late Friday after more than a week in Texas responding to Harvey.

“We finally get to do something for the people of our great nation,” said 1st Sgt. Gary Sarver. “We’re here for them and that's what the National Guard was all about.”

The National Guard said up to 3,500 soldiers from the 37th Infantry Brigade Combat Team were preparing to leave for Florida later this week, if needed.

More on Irma.