Sheriff's deputies head to Louisiana to aid storm effort

LAWRENCEVILLE - Sheriff Butch Conway on Thursday deployed nine Gwinnett SWAT team members to Lafourche Parish, La., to assist local officers as residents who fled Hurricane Gustav return en masse.

"I know it's hard for some of these guys to leave their families for the next two weeks at a moment's notice, but they do it because they are a law enforcement family and they want to help other officers in crisis," Conway said. "I believe that if we ever had an emergency situation, these other agencies would be here for us."

Lafourche Parish - a 90,000-person expanse located in the southern portion of the state which partly juts into the Gulf of Mexico - is still without electricity and living conditions have been described as "primitive," Conway said. The deputies will serve as security or patrol units.

Conway said he sent half the number of officers needed from Gwinnett in the event aid is needed in coastal Georgia in the wake of Hurricane Hanna.

This is the fourth deployment for Gwinnett SWAT members who assisted during the 2004 G-8 Summit in Sea Island, the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in Jefferson Parish in 2005 and following the tornadoes in Americus in March 2007, according to Sheriff's Department spokeswoman Stacey Bourbonnais.

The request for aid in Louisiana was sent from the state's FEMA office to the Georgia Sheriff's Association, Bourbonnais said. The cost of the aid is reimbursed by FEMA. The Sheriff's Department received more than $100,000 in reimbursement from FEMA related to personnel deployments following Hurricane Katrina.