News: NC National Guard and emergency authorities respond to Winter Storm Pax
Story by Pfc. Lisa Vines
RALEIGH, N.C. - More than 100 North Carolina National Guard soldiers joined forces with the state’s Division of Emergency Management Feb. 12-14 to help local citizens safely navigate dangerous conditions caused by Winter Storm Pax.
The storm was the third to hit North Carolina in the past month, bringing freezing rain, icy roads and several inches of snow to most of the state’s largest communities.
The North Carolina National Guard began preparing to help citizens face the storm on Feb. 10, the day before North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory signed a state-of-emergency declaration, said Sgt. 1st Class Brandon W. Knight, who monitored the operation from the NCNG’s Joint Operations Center in Raleigh.
NCNG soldiers stationed themselves in emergency management stations statewide. First Lt. Waylan J. Green, a member of the 113th Sustainment Brigade, served as the liaison officer in charge of coordinating efforts out of the central region office in Butner.
“[Our mission is] to cooperate with the local population, assisting motorists who are on the side of the road, transportation for individuals who need to get to homes or to hospitals,” Green said. “And to pull vehicles out of a ditch or off the road.”
Soldier “catch teams” and civilian emergency-response authorities were assigned missions and sent on patrols during the day and night. These teams were spread regionally throughout the state. Soldiers teamed with state and county police, fire departments, and other emergency management teams to provide Humvee assistance during patrols and missions.
“The relationship between the National Guard and Emergency Management has been excellent,” Green said.
Soldiers from the 1452nd Combat Heavy Equipment Transport Transportation Company were assigned to patrol I-85 from Butner to the Virginia border – more than 40 miles of highway – on Wednesday evening. The team recovered several stranded motorists’ vehicles along the highway, and provided transportation to civilians in need.
Thursday, 130th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade soldiers serving in Charlotte cleared the way and escorted an ambulance transporting a woman in labor to a local hospital, according to a report from the NCNG’s Joint Operations Center.
In Raleigh, 113th Sustainment Brigade soldiers worked with a Wake County Sheriff’s Office patrol to assist stranded drivers and inspect abandoned vehicles for passengers in need.
“The Guard is part of the community, so we’re helping our neighbors. No other organization can respond as fast as we can, and no one else knows our communities like we do,” said Capt. Dan Levis, a member of the NCNG’s 5th Battalion, 113th Field Artillery Regiment.
With the emergency handled by Friday afternoon, most NCNG soldiers who were brought in to support civil authorities during the emergency were released from their orders. The majority of NCNG soldiers, including those who served during the storm, are traditional National Guard service members who train regularly while also maintaining full-time responsibilities as civilian professionals and students across the state.