National Guard Plans For Mississippi's Next Storm

Lt. Col. Bill Glasgow remembers exactly what the 155th Brigade Combat Team was doing on August 29.

"We were watching the hurricane," he said. The pictures his unit saw were beamed to Iraq via satellite, because that's where 4,000 members of the Mississippi National Guard were stationed. "I tell you it was hard, it really was," he said.

The 155th was bravely dodging a storm of insurgents. Now that they're home, they're preparing for the next big storm surge.

"I'm sure it's a large task and everything like that. But we'll be ready for it," Glasgow said.

On Tuesday, a hurricane response exercise mapped out exactly where every Mississippi National Guard unit should go if another Katrina made a bee line toward the coast.

For instance, Lt. Col. Kevin Bullard's military police unit has new hurricane orders. Get in your military trucks and get down to the coast ASAP.

"We know that we've got to do things a little bit different," the head of the 112th Military Police said. "The mindset now is we're all going to be here together. We're all going to ride the storm out together."

Why send the Canton unit so early? Gen. Ben Gaston needed just two words to explain his new mandate.

"Be prepared," the guard's task force commander said.

The general considered that Katrina's most important lesson.

"What we're trying to do now is get prepared. Make sure those folks who were deployed and were not part of the Katrina exercise understand what the obstacles were," he said.

That won't be a problem for Col. Glasgow. Once the 155th got back to Mississippi, he went down and looked at the damage.

"The damage was worse than anything we saw in Iraq," he said.

And he'll make sure that lesson is engrained in the minds of 155th, before it responds to Mississippi's next hurricane.

He'll also emphasize the massive responsibility his unit may face. Immediately after Katrina, Mississippi's National Guard set up roadblocks, cleared away debris, and provided search and rescue assistance. It also distributed 45 million pounds of ice, five million gallons of water and four million MREs.