NV Guard Soldiers Head to Help With Gustav

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RENO - It was a case of deja vu for several members of Nevada's Air National Guard Monday.

Fifteen soldiers left for New Orleans Labor Day afternoon, to help assist with Hurricane Gustav...coincidentally, on the three-year anniversary of the day they left to help with Hurricane Katrina.

Even with reports that the storm had subsided, the mission of Nevada Guard soldiers hadn't even begun. Nevada's soldiers missed the brunt of Gustav...but their job becomes even more important after the storm has passed.

"Every disaster we face is different. You can't have a plan that addresses everything. All you can do is plan for what you can respond to and that's what we've done here in Nevada," said Chief Master Sergeant Ken Gray, who responded to Katrina in 2005.

They packed up enough gear and supplies to last for at least a week. While they're ready to help with whatever comes their way, their main mission is helping to assess damage.

The C-130 aircraft is the only plane in the world, equipped with a special tool, called "Scath View." It's used to broadcast aerial photographs, in real-time, to those who need to see the big picture.

"Full motion video, or the overhead view of the area definitely will provide a better perspective of people on the ground who need to make decisions," said Major Brian Thayer.

Decisions about how much damage there is...how many victims need help...or how to help find people who aren't accounted for.

For many of the soldiers, the trip is familiar. When Katrina hit, the task was much the same. Same day, different year, different storm...but soldiers say there's no irony here.

"It's hurricane season. It's always a possibility for us. We did pretty much the same thing three years ago. It's just the time of year," said Gray.

Soldiers were expected to fly into Dallas, Texas late Monday night, and make the rest of the trip to New Orleans by car or bus.