News: Missouri Guard activates after weekend storms; several states see damage
Story by Sgt. Darron Salzer
ARLINGTON, Va.– About 140 Missouri National Guard troops are working under the orders of Gov. Jay Nixon to assist local authorities after a tornado ripped through the city of Joplin, Mo., Sunday, May 22.
Immediate missions include search and rescue, communication support, debris clearance along emergency routes, security and door-to-door visits to ensure the continued safety of residents.
Nixon activated the Missouri Guard and declared a state of emergency and said, “These storms have caused extensive damage across Missouri, and they continue to pose significant risk to lives and property,” said a News Tribune report.
“As soon as we heard the news of the tornadoes, the Missouri National Guard began mobilization activities,” said Army Maj. Gen. Stephen L. Danner, adjutant general of the Missouri National Guard.
Soldiers that are responding include those from the 117th Engineer Team and the 294th Engineer Company, as well as a Joint Task force kit en route to assist local authorities in Joplin, Missouri Guard officials said.
The Soldiers are all part of a task force organized under the 203rd Engineer Battalion, which is using an armory in Carthage, Mo. as a staging area for troops deploying to Joplin, officials said.
Missouri Guard members went to work immediately assisting local emergency first responders throughout the night.
Army Spc. Daniel Brown, 117th Engineer Team, said his unit was the first to respond, and that they have worked throughout the night searching through the rubble for victims of the storm.
Brown said of the scene, “This is something nobody wants to see and, thankfully, we haven’t needed to save anyone yet, but we’ve got a lot of good knowledge and training to help.
“This is our job, and Joplin is our backyard.”
Currently, the Missouri Guard has about 140 Guard members working on the ground in Joplin, said Guard officials.
“Your Missouri National Guard is bringing experienced Citizen-Soldiers and leaders to provide the best support we have to our neighbors in Joplin,” said Danner.
In addition to the National Guard, the governor also activated the State Emergency Operations Center.
The tornado destroyed homes and badly damaged a hospital, left vehicles damaged and flipped and also left behind piles of burning debris, Reuters reported.
According to a CNN report, at least 116 people lost their lives.
Guard officials said missions would continue until the governor releases the Missouri National Guard.
Meanwhile, in LaCrosse County, Wis., officials said they are continuing to assess the damage after a tornado swept through the county this weekend.
LaCrosse County Emergency Management said about 200 homes and businesses were damaged.
The mayor declared a state of emergency, but no requests for assistance by the Guard had been made at the time of this report.
Parts of Minnesota also saw damage after storms over the weekend, resulting in least one death and injuries to about two-dozen others, said a National Guard report.