News: National Guard troops in Deep South help in wake of fierce winter storm Leon
Story by Stephen Marshall
ARLINGTON, Va. - Several states in the Deep South remained in the grip of icy, snowy winter storm Leon Wednesday, with National Guard soldiers and airmen providing relief.
A Wednesday tally reflected about 700 Guard troops on duty in hard-hit areas in Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, North Carolina and South Carolina.
Although only a few inches of snow fell in these areas, freezing rain left ice on roadways throughout the region, which turned interstate roads into frigid parking lots.
Stranded motorists abandoned cars and camped in such refuges as gas stations, according to a National Public Radio report. NPR also reported that 800 Alabama school children spent the night in their school.
Typical of the Guard response was in Georgia, where Capt. William Carraway, the state public affairs officer, said, “The Georgia Guard has worked through the night assisting local first responders and aiding stranded motorists in the wake of winter storm Leon.”
Troops were distributing ready-to-eat meals, blankets and rescuing stranded children from stuck school buses, according to a Facebook post from the Georgia National Guard. Because Georgia troops had only been activated early today, no exact figures were available yet on the numbers of soldiers responding.
In North Carolina, where about 30 soldiers were on state active duty, Gov. Pat McCrory said “Our goal is to be over prepared.” McCrory spoke at a Tuesday news conference with Maj. Gen. Greg Lusk, the state adjutant general.
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal declared a state of emergency Monday and authorized the mobilization of 450 Louisiana National Guard members to state active duty to respond to the storm.
The LANG mobilized personnel and equipment to assist state transportation workers with road de-icing and road grading operations, according to a news release.