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    2,500 National Guard members respond to year's biggest storm

    2,500 National Guard members respond to year's biggest storm

    Courtesy Photo | U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Vince Rutter of Company C, 35th Infantry Division, Missouri...... read more read more



    Story by Tech. Sgt. Johnathon Orrell 

    National Guard Bureau

    WASHINGTON - About 2,500 National Guard members are continuing relief and rescue operations in nine of the 30 states affected by the blizzard conditions and severe winter storms covering an almost 2,000 mile stretch of the country.

    Since Jan. 31, the governors of Illinois, Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma and Wisconsin have declared states of emergency, with the National Guard activated in Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas and Wisconsin.

    The Indiana National Guard has 667 Guard members operating from 44 armories throughout central and northern parts of Indiana and the Interstate 70 corridor.

    Guard members are performing highway assistance missions, transporting civilians to safe areas and responding to emergency calls.

    If needed, the governor of Indiana, Mitch Daniels, will call up an additional 189 soldiers and airmen for state active duty for the severe weather response, the Indiana Guard reported.

    In Illinois, 500 National Guard members are activated and Gov. Pat Quinn has mobilized additional resources from the Illinois National Guard to ensure the safety of citizens as the state continues its response to severe winter weather.

    Quinn - in consultation with the Illinois Emergency Management Agency and the Illinois State Police - has ordered National Guard soldiers to provide direct transportation to Illinois State Police troopers, Guard officials reported.

    He also relieved the soldiers of their previous mission of manning the more than 20 rest areas from Interstate 70 near St. Louis north to Chicago.

    They also relayed information on road conditions, vehicle accidents and stranded motorists to Illinois State Police officers conducting roving patrols across the interstate assisting motorists in need.

    Early estimates on the evening of Feb. 1 indicated more than 50 motorists were assisted, but Illinois National Guard and Illinois Emergency Management Agency officials said those numbers are extremely low because not all of the assistance is being documented due to the nature of the mission.

    "Our main goal is to assist civil authorities helping motorists and those in need," said Army Maj. Brad Leighton, director of the Illinois National Guard public affairs office. "Our mission is to protect and serve our fellow Illinoisans."

    The Illinois Guard troops will report to Illinois State Police district stations with Humvees and other all-terrain trucks where they will transport Illinois State Troopers as they assist stranded motorists in need of assistance.

    Many Guard members will be shifted from the southern part of the state to the most severely affected northern communities.

    Since Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon declared a state of emergency on Jan. 31, the Missouri National Guard has activated more than 600 soldiers and airmen to conduct emergency missions throughout the state.

    The Missouri Guard members will be spread over three task forces, said Army Maj. Gen. Stephen L. Danner, adjutant general of the Missouri National Guard.

    "Our force is seasoned by dozens of overseas deployments and 18 state emergency missions since 2005," Danner said. "Our citizen-soldiers and airmen are ready to protect their fellow Missourians in their time of need, whether they are conducting door-to-door safety visits or clearing critical paths for emergency vehicles so first responders can do their jobs."

    Soldiers and Airmen with Task Force East, based in St. Louis; Task Force Northwest, based in Kansas City and Task Force Southwest, based in Springfield, are making door-to-door safety visits, providing critical infrastructure power generation, helping stranded motorists, conducting presence patrols and clearing emergency routes to support first responders.

    The Missouri Guard also has sent liaison officers to emergency operation centers.

    Kansas City, Mo., ABC affiliate KMBC-9 reported that Missouri National Guard members assisted in the delivery of a baby early this morning.

    Two Missouri National Guard members used humvees to transport an ambulance crew to a rural home where the ambulance could not travel.

    They then transported the pregnant woman to the hospital in time for the birth of the baby.

    In Oklahoma, about 100 Guard members are working with the Department of Transportation and the Highway Patrol to assist stranded motorists, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency is using the Will Rogers Air National Guard Base in Oklahoma City for equipment staging.

    About 75 Wisconsin National Guard members are deployed to armories across the state to assist local and state authorities with weather emergencies.

    The deployment was in response to Gov. Scott Walker's state of emergency declaration which directs all state agencies to assist with response or recovery efforts and authorizes Air Force Brig. Gen. Don Dunbar, the adjutant general of Wisconsin, to mobilize Wisconsin Guard Soldiers and Airmen.

    "The National Guard's dual mission makes us uniquely suited for emergency response," Dunbar said. "We are trained and equipped to answer the call and meet the needs of Wisconsin citizens.

    "Support to civilian authorities is a core mission of our soldiers and airmen.
    When the state needs us, we're there."

    Guard members assigned to tactical vehicles reported to armories in Plymouth, Milwaukee, Oak Creek, Kenosha, Sussex, Elkhorn, Watertown, Janesville and Platteville on Jan. 31.

    They will remain on site through the state of emergency or until released.

    Those armories will be available for use as back-up emergency shelters, and the soldiers will be standing by to support local authorities with emergency operations such as door-to-door safety visits, generator assistance or stranded-motorist support.

    The Iowa National Guard has about 30 Guard members supporting the Iowa Department of Transportation and Iowa State Patrol on highway assistance missions.

    The Texas National Guard has about 30 Guard members assisting stranded motorists in Wichita Falls and Lubbock.

    During a press conference in Kansas, Gov. Sam Brownback joined Army Maj. Gen. Lee Tafanelli, adjutant general to update the state's response to the winter weather.

    Tafanelli said the current response is a coordinated effort, including the Kansas National Guard, Highway Patrol, Department of Transportation, Department of Health and Environment and Federal Emergency Management Agency.

    The Kansas National Guard has 16 Guard members and four Humvees deployed to transport medical personnel to and from hospital, he said.

    He added that additional Guard members are assisting the Highway Patrol in rescuing stranded motorists and clearing vehicles from the roadway. Several armories are open as shelters.

    In Arkansas, the National Guard has about five Guard members transporting supplies from Little Rock to the Washington County emergency management facility in Fayetteville in preparation for any needed assistance.

    Pennsylvania has about 400 National Guard members on standby, but no mission requirements had been assigned as of Feb. 1.



    Date Taken: 02.02.2011
    Date Posted: 02.02.2011 15:51
    Story ID: 64674
    Location: WASHINGTON, DC, US 

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