News: Guard's disaster response missions grew nationwide today
ARLINGTON, Va. - National Guard members in several states assisted civil authorities today after a tornado touched down in Arkansas, wildfires spread in Arizona, Oklahoma and Texas and flood response efforts continued in the North Dakota, Minnesota and Florida.
In Arkansas, Army Guard members were called out by Gov. Mike Beebe overnight to provide law enforcement support to the town of Mena after a tornado ripped through the area, destroying homes and businesses.
The Soldiers assisted local law enforcement in securing the area with traffic control points and conducting search and rescue missions, said Army Capt. Chris Heathscott, the state public affairs officer.
"After having been on the scene of numerous tornadoes as a Guardsman, still to this day you can't hardly put it into words," said Heathscott, who was working in Mena today. "You're walking down the street and some folks are laughing, because that's about all they can do. You walk down to the next block and there's some sitting on their front porch crying, because they just lost a loved one."
"Not only have these people lost homes, but some have lost family members," he said adding that there have been three fatalities.
He said the Arkansas Guard supported 81 state active missions in 2008, many for natural disasters like this. During this fiscal year, they have already supported over 90.
The governor and adjutant general were expected to do an aerial assessment on a National Guard Black Hawk helicopter this afternoon.