MARIETTA, Ga. -- The Georgia Army National Guard is watching Hurricane Irma along with everyone else, but they are also preparing to head to wherever they are needed as soon as the call comes in from the governor's office.
On Wednesday, the Guard was busy at its base in Marietta tracking Irma's path toward Georgia.
"Our desire is to get to the need as quickly as possible, so what we have been doing for the last couple of days and what we will be doing as we watch the storm come across the Atlantic is make sure we are never late to need," said Brigadier General Thomas Carden.
Carden is overseeing the preparations, similar to last year, when the Guard needed to respond to Georgia's coast to assist with the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew. In a matter of days, they may need to make a similar response.
"One of the first things we see is some aviation requests if the roads get blocked and we need to get some people or equipment into key areas, our aviation capabilities give us the capacity to do that," he said.
They can also be called on to clear storm debris, to help reopen roadways quickly, or carry out search and rescue missions, while coordinating with power companies to avoid live power lines.
The National Guard is also planning to stage in key locations which will be determined by the storm's path as it becomes clearer.
"Just outside what we think the affected area is going to be, but we obviously have to look at that analysis as the storm gets closer. We want to be just outside of that because when the storm comes we don't want to be part of the problem, but we want to be able to get in there as quickly as we can,"
I'm told responding to Hurricane Matthew gives the Georgia Army National Guard some broad framework of how to respond to a storm.
But they're doing detailed analysis of Hurricane Irma, because certain staging areas used during Matthew might be out of the question during Irma because of this storm's much larger size and force.