SMC EMPLOYEE RETURNS FROM GUARD
STINT IN NEW ORLEANS
Brant Looney is still absorbing it.
Less than a week after returning from
Hurricane Katrina-ravaged New Orleans, having served a 32-day stint as
a member of the first National Guard unit deployed to the disaster area,
Looney has memories to sort out.
Looney was deployed to New Orleans on Aug. 29, just days after Katrina struck, as part of the National Guard’s 18th Cavalry. His unit of approximately 500 guardsmen and women was the first to be sent to the area, and their job was security.
Duties included security patrols, checkpoints,
assessments of downed power lines as well as checks on gas and water lines,
animal rescues, and damage assessment. Headquartered at a middle school
at the edge of the floodwaters with no power and water, the guardsmen
worked 16 hours a day, every day, for 32 days.
Working in a 50-square-mile area, Looney
and his fellow guardsmen would patrol in boats and on foot. Among other
duties, they helped the New Orleans police officers – stretched
thin – to stop looting and crime.
Looney said he saw a few floating bodies, but federal authorities had ordered that bodies be left where they were, tied to a tree of some stationery object so they could be recovered by the local coroner’s office after the flood waters receded.
Looney, who has worked at SMC’s Academy of Entertainment & Technology for eight years, is a corporal in the National Guard, having served about half of his six-year stint. This was the first time he was called up to active duty.
Named “Classified Employee of the Month” in August by the SMC Management Association before being deployed, Looney lives in Burbank with his wife Azure. He returned to California Oct. 1 and was back at work Monday, Oct. 3.
Toward the end of his term of duty in New Orleans, some stores were opening and some residents returning to their homes.
“The people were so nice and thankful,”
he said. “I’m feeling good about (his term of duty). I know
we made a difference.”
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