Florida National Guard Called Up for Storm Relief

Soldiers from St. Augustine, Panama City and Tallahassee will be heading out as soon as they hear the official word. Hundreds of Florida National Guardsmen are on standby, ready to offer support to those affected by Hurricane Charley.

LT COL Tim Hybart with the Florida National Guard says, "It depends on how bad the storm damage is and what is requested from the civilian authorities."

Powerful wind and rain from the category 4 storm has turned a large part of southwest Florida upside down. Early Friday evening, Eyewitness News spoke with a resident of Fort Myers, braving the storm.

John Gaggins, a Fort Myers resident, says, "We're surrounded by trees but they are all knocked down. There are no trees left. We're in a neighborhood called McGregor Woods and I would eliminate the woods part because every tree has snapped in half."

At any moment, Florida National Guardsmen will be dispatched to the areas most affected, providing supplies and equipment, and in some cases search and rescue assistance.

Hybart adds, "Whatever they need as far as logistical support, security, engineering support, that type of assistance is what we're ready to provide."

In many of the target areas hit by Charley, cleanup efforts have already begun. In some cases, Guardsmen may provide temporary shelter for areas hardest hit by the storm.