(COLUMBUS, Ohio)— Ohio Governor Mike DeWine issued a proclamation today authorizing specified members of the Ohio National Guard to provide emergency aid to the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico after a series of powerful earthquakes caused massive destruction and widespread power outages.
Beginning on December 28, 2019, the U.S. territory experienced hundreds of earthquakes, culminating in a 6.4 magnitude earthquake on January 7, 2020, and multiple aftershocks, near Guanica on the island’s southwestern coast.
Puerto Rico's governor declared a state of emergency due to the widespread damage and utility disruption.
"I have authorized the mobilization of the Ohio National Guard to provide emergency assistance until basic services in the impacted areas are restored," said Governor DeWine. "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 Ohio Air National Guard 200th RED HORSE (Rapid Engineer Deployable Heavy Operational Repair Squadron Engineer) Squadron will support earthquake relief efforts by establishing two Disaster Relief Bed-down Systems, which are deployable 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.
“Disaster relief missions and supporting our homeland is why America has a National Guard to call when the nation and her citizens need us most. Our Ohio Air National Guard Airmen at the 200th RED HORSE Squadron are ready and anxious to support earthquake relief efforts in Puerto Rico. This is what we do,” said Maj. Gen. John C. Harris Jr., the Ohio adjutant general.
The 200th RED HORSE Squadron, headquartered in Port Clinton, Ohio, with a detachment in Mansfield, is equipped to provide engineering, construction, and logistics capabilities worldwide on short notice.
“Being able to support another state for domestic response is exciting,” said Col. Michael Hrynciw, commander of the 200th RED HORSE Squadron. “We train for this all the time in support of our friends and neighbors. The Ohio National Guard leads the way in helping others.”
Governor DeWine’s proclamation allows the Ohio National Guard 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.