LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC-TV) – Starting on Saturday, 600 Louisiana National Guardsmen will begin deploying to the coastal areas affected by the BP oil slick.
The Departments of Defense and Homeland Security have agreed to provide enough money so that up to 6,000 guardsmen could be deployed if they are needed.
Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal made the announcement on Friday evening.
The Guard will provide security, medical capabilities, engineers, clean-up efforts and communication assistance.
"These next few days are critical," said Gov. Jindal, who made the comments during a press conference with federal officials, including Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar.
Even though the true extent of damage the oil slick will have to the coast isn't known yet, some are already starting to compare this disaster to other disasters Louisiana has faced, including Hurricane Katrina.
The man widely credited with getting the streets of New Orleans back under control following Katrina, (Ret.) Lieutenant General Russel Honore, said the response to the oil spill could have come sooner. Honore also would like to know whether there is a chance an oil spill like this could happen again.
"In this case, we've got a failure of equipment that is causing a natural disaster that has the potential to go way beyond the after effects of a hurricane," said Honore.
According to documents obtained by the Associated Press, BP repeatedly downplayed suggestions that an oil spill would cause significant damage to local ecosystems. BP argued the position of the rig, located tens of miles offshore, would prevent such an accident.