National Guard responding to year's biggest storm
February 2, 2011
WASHINGTON (Feb. 1, 2011) - In response to the blizzard conditions and strong winter storms across a third of the nation, six governors have declared states of emergency with about 1,100 National Guard members from 11 states either activated or on standby.
A day after Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon declared a state of emergency, the Missouri National Guard called up more than 600 Soldiers and Airmen to conduct emergency missions throughout the state.
As snow, ice, rain and high winds developed throughout the state, Missouri National Guard members were spread over three task forces, said Army Maj. Gen. Stephen L. Danner, adjutant general.
"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 conducting emergency missions, to include door-to-door safety visits, critical infrastructure power generation, stranded motorist support, presence patrols and emergency route clearance to support first responders.
They have also established liaison officers at emergency operation centers in affected cities and counties.
Meanwhile, Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn has activated more than 500 Illinois National Guard members to assist stranded motorists on several interstate highways.
The Guard members will be stationed at rest areas along highways, including Interstate 70 and others north of I-70.
They will coordinate with the Illinois State Police to ensure the safety of travelers stranded along the roads.
"We must do everything we can to keep motorists safe during this massive winter storm," Quinn said. "Illinois Department of Transportation crews are working non-stop to clear roadways, and the Illinois State Police will also be closely monitoring or highways.
"These troops from the Illinois National Guard will help ensure public safety along the roadways, and I urge everyone to exercise caution when traveling."
Guard members will be stationed along the highways and will have supplies such as water, snack bars and roadside safety tips to provide to stranded motorists. They will also relay information regarding road conditions, vehicle accidents and stranded motorists to Illinois State Police officers working in the area.
"I'm proud that the Illinois National Guard is able to play our part in responding to this winter storm," said Army Maj. Gen. William L. Enyart, adjutant general.
"Our Soldiers and Airmen respond to the governor's call to help in state emergencies, just as we answer the president's call to serve overseas. It takes selfless citizens to serve in today's National Guard - whether in Illinois or across the world."
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.
The Indiana National Guard has not been activated yet but about 875 Guard members are on standby to answer the call from their governor.
The Iowa National Guard has about 30 Guardmembers providing assistance and relief support to stranded motorists.
Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback declared a state of emergency, which activates the disaster response and recovery portions of the Kansas Response Plan that authorizes state resources and funds to expedite emergency assistance statewide, including the National Guard.
In Oklahoma, the Federal Emergency Management Agency is using the Will Rogers Air National Guard Base in Oklahoma City for equipment staging, but no National Guard personnel are anticipated to be used to support this FEMA mission.
The Texas National Guard currently has about 30 Guard members assisting stranded motorists in Wichita Falls and Lubbock.
With Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker declaring a state of emergency, Air Force Brig. Gen. Don Dunbar, the adjutant general of the Wisconsin National Guard, can activate elements of the Wisconsin National Guard to active duty to assist local authorities if needed.
The declaration also directs all state agencies to assist in any response or recovery efforts.
New Jersey and Pennsylvania have Guard members on standby with no missions received at this time.
(Air Force Tech. Sgt. John Orrell writes for the National Guard Bureau.)