Florida National Guard facing budget cuts, furloughs that could impact hurricane readiness

Military estimates 10% drop in storm readiness

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- - All eyes are on Tropical Storm Dorian as it moves through the Atlantic.

South Florida is too far away from the storm right now for any residents to be concerned. But if the area was impacted by the storm, there will be less resources this summer from the Florida National Guard.

Federal budget cuts are causing are causing widespread furloughs to guardsmen, military members who constantly are preparing for the next major hurricane.

"We're like a big football team. We get excited about that. We want to be there. We want to be ready," said  Lt. Chad Copeland with the Florida National Guard.

The Florida National Guard are the men and women we all relied upon in times of crisis.

When Hurricane Wilma, Francis and Jeanne swept through South Florida, it was the National Guard who delivered supplies and help to residents.

"That's what these guys do, they're ready to go at a moments notice," said Copeland.

This summer though, there will be fewer of those soldiers in fatigues if a major storm hits.

Copeland there will be $1 billion cut from the nation's disaster relief fund and 1,000 Florida National Guard members will be forced on furloughs.

"You're asking your best and brightest to work harder for less," said Copeland.

Copeland said it will mean less soldiers and parts to maintain vehicles which will mean less resources to get needed supplies out to communities during a time of disaster.

"I've got sixty trucks behind me. It might mean only 45 or 50 are ready to go. And you might want 55 or 60 to go," said Copeland.

The U.S. Department of Defense estimates "equipment readiness" will plummet 10% in Florida.

"You're betting that we won't need all of these (trucks) in the next three months. That's a tough bet because when the time comes, you're going to want them all," said Copeland.

The Florida Division of Emergency Management is aware of the situation. A director said they are trying to speed up communication with the Florida National Guard and are looking at other resources in the event guard members are not available.

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