ARLINGTON, Va. – More than 5,000 National Guardsmen from multiple states are positioned across southwest and central Florida to help communities devastated by Hurricane Ian.

Florida Guardsmen and others from Louisiana, New York and Tennessee – with more on the way from Georgia, Indiana, New Jersey, South Carolina and Montana – are standing by to provide direct support in the wake of the catastrophic storm, said Army Gen. Daniel Hokanson, the chief of the National Guard Bureau.

“We’re hurt by the significant devastation we’re seeing and the impact on the lives of Florida citizens,” Hokanson said. “In the immediate aftermath, search and rescue will be the focus. Our concern is saving lives and getting our folks in there as quickly as possible to make a difference in that critical time to get people out of situations that may be potentially life-threatening to them.

“Because we’re in every community, we’re part of the first responders to assist in recovery immediately,” he said.