Mission of Relief - Troops Arrive in New Orleans

9-8-05 - Local guard soldiers left Sunday on a mission of relief, but when they arrived in New Orleans on Tuesday, they quickly found their relief mission took on a whole new meaning.

The streets of New Orleans that are usually filled with tourists and revelries now look more like the streets of Baghdad.

Military convoys line the roads, and national guardsmen stand with guns in hand providing order more than aid.

"We're not real sure what to expect," Spec. Robert Stubbs said. "We're down there basically just as clean-up."

On Sunday, Stubbs admitted he worried about what he would see in New Orleans when the 180th convoy rolled into town Tuesday afternoon.

Upon arrival to the Crescent City, he saw his worries up close and personal.

Things like beautifully set tables inside the New Orleans Culinary Institute while outside his fellow Oklahoma guard soldiers set up a staging area.

After 12 hours on the road from Alexandria to New Orleans, it was a game of hurry up and wait for the soldiers. It took them two hours just to find a place to stay, eventually finding refuge in a garden district firehouse

But Oklahoma soldiers are no strangers to disaster.

"A lot of these men were at the tornado, some at the bombing," Sgt. Mark Schlueter said. "So we might be more prepared that others, but some of these new guys don't know what they'll see."

The 180th started patrols in the garden district. A place where under the cover of darkness, people have been setting fire to homes.

Just two days after they arrived, they've already seen destruction and devastation. It appears that the 180th could be in New Orleans for several weeks.