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California National Guard deployed to help with Hurricane Irma

A California National Guard troop stands watch outside the Northridge Meadows Apartments, early Jan. 18, 1994 as rescue workers pack up gear.
A California National Guard troop stands watch outside the Northridge Meadows Apartments, early Jan. 18, 1994 as rescue workers pack up gear.
Bob Pearson/AFP/Getty Images

Members of the California National Guard are heading to Florida to help with disaster relief efforts for Hurricane Irma.

Captain Will Martin says 130 airmen have been deployed. The vast majority of them will help with search and rescue efforts while the rest focus on coordinating aircraft mobility operations between military and civilian personnel.

"They're taking two Pave Hawk helicopters and those are really a utilitarian helicopter that specializes in  allowing them to go to the ground and pick people up in all sorts of environments. So whether it's flooding or mountain tops or whatever that might be, that aircraft is really useful and flexible for those types of situations," Martin told KPCC.

The  National Guard members come from the 129th Rescue Wing, based in Mountain View, California, and the 146th Airlift Wing, operating out of a base on the Channel Islands. 

The team includes aerial port personnel, a security forces detail and an airlift control flight, which specializes in opening airfields and coordinating air mobility operations.

The team will be working with agencies in Florida, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.

They'll be among 7,000 soldiers from several states including as many as 3,500 from the Ohio National Guard, according to the Associated Press.

In most major disasters, specialized search and rescue teams come from other regions to help with the aftermath.

California has eight search and rescue Task Forces that operate under the auspices of FEMA. Each Task Force draws on emergency personnel — mostly firefighters — from multiple agencies along with doctors, structural engineers, drivers and other support staff.

Task Force 5, based in Orange County, played a crucial role in helping with disaster relief efforts after Hurricane Harvey.

Members of the Los Angeles Fire Department were also on the scene in Texas. They were preparing to head home when they got the call to head to Florida.