by Tony Rutherford HuntingtonNews.Net Reporter

Hurricane Irene has devastated Vermont; however, the National Guard has no helicopters in the state to help its citizens. The choppers, along with the men and women, are in Iraq.  Blackhawk helicopters and double bladed Chinook choppers  on loan from Illinois arrived August 31 to help deliver food, water, medicine, and supplies to 13 towns cut off due to the tropical storm.

Neighboring New Hampshire sent two whirlybirds to Vermont Monday. Instead of rescue missions, they transported Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Craig Fugate,, Gov. Peter Shumlin, Sen. Bernie Sanders, and Rep. Peter Welch. After surveying the flood ravaged state, Vermont’s Emergency Management Deputy Division Director completed paperwork which has been approved. Thus, the Illinois Black Hawk’s have been sent.

Although the Vermont guardsmen and women will be heading back home, the helicopters will not be usable for in-state missions until they undergo maintenance for removal of sand and grit.

Lt. Lloyd Goodrow told the Burlington Free Press, “We’d   be in a very different scenario if they were here," Goodrow said, referring to the Vermont Guard’s Black Hawk helicopters now in Iraq. Goodrow said the Guard has both a federal and a state mission and, thanks to the help from Illinois and New Hampshire, expects to be able to perform both functions.

"Our primary federal mission is a combat mission in Iraq that is saving lives," he said. "And we are able to reach out across state lines at home to allow us to do both our state and federal missions."