September 13, 2005
Troops from Fort Gordon are serving in New Orleans. Their mission right now is to set up an operations center downtown. They say it will help them coordinate relief efforts.
Fort Gordon will work with several other military groups and government agencies. This means they need to set up in downtown so they can all work together.
Troops from Fort Gordon have been camped out in Terminal A of the New Orleans airport. Their satellites bring phone, Internet and video conferencing to the Gulf.
Lieutenant Colonel Stephen Middleton says their technology is helping everybody. They need the space to do their job.
“It benefits everybody, the whole community, the whole effort that’s trying to do the relief,” Middleton said.
But they need more space. He says there are so many agencies down there that things can get confusing. Their job down here is to improve the lines of communication.
“We’re making excellent progress here,” Middleton said.
The plan has been to move into the Hilton Hotel, which is in the middle of downtown near the convention center. But there are some problems with the building.
“A lot of mildew, the carpets were soaked because the first floor got flooded with water, the food and kitchen area was rotten,” Middleton said.
The outside of the Hilton Hotel is in pretty bad condition as well. There’s broken glass on the streets but authorities are in the process of cleaning up the streets in front of the hotel.
As soon as the building is secure, they will move out there.
The Fifth Army has been on the USS Iwo Jima since they got in from Baton Rouge several days ago. Lieutenant Yarborough says they will use Fort Gordon’s communications once they move on land.
“Everything is being orchestrated right from the ship right now,” Yarborough said.
Lieutenant Colonel Middleton says the new communications center will help organize a relief effort that is already making a lot of progress.
“Night and day, the folks that are doing the cleanup are doing a phenomenal job,” Middleton said.
But the new communications center will help them make even more progress. There will be four similar operations set up around the city. Right now they are looking at the Marriott, Embassy Suites and the Sheraton, all of which are downtown. They are working on fitting everyone in who needs to be there, so it may be a few more days until they have everything worked out.