National Guard assists governors of states in Sandy's path
Massachusetts National Guardsmen fill sand bags Oct. 28, 2012, in preparation for Hurricane Sandy at the Massachusetts Department of Transportation facility.

WASHINGTON (Oct. 29, 2012) -- National Guard members are at work in seven states as Hurricane Sandy takes aim at the East Coast.

As of 4 p.m. today, about 1,900 National Guard forces were on state active duty supporting the governors of Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Virginia.

These forces are helping local first responders and the Federal Emergency Management Agency with tasks such as assistance at evacuation shelters, route clearance, search and rescue and delivery of essential equipment and supplies, officials said.

Sandy, dubbed a "monster storm" by some forecasters, is forecast to make landfall along the New Jersey coast late tonight or early Tuesday.

More than 85,000 National Guard members are available to assist civilian authorities in potentially affected states in support of relief efforts, officials said. Available National Guard resources include almost 140 helicopters that can perform search and rescue, reconnaissance and personnel or cargo-carrying missions.

Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta has appointed "dual status" commanders to command both federal and state National Guard forces in the affected states. Pentagon officials said the special authority enables commanders to integrate defense support operations and capabilities effectively when governors request them. Panetta is prepared to agree quickly to similar requests from other states, officials added.

Meanwhile, U.S. Northern Command has put aviation assets such as light- and medium-lift helicopters and rescue teams on 24-hour status to prepare to deploy in response to the storm. Northcom also is providing military installations for FEMA to use in its response operations.

Governors warned of heavy rain, extensive power outages, significant flooding and dangerous conditions, according to National Guard Coordination Center reports. Guard officials at the center are monitoring Hurricane Sandy and the National Guard response in each state.

A state of emergency typically mobilizes resources to local governments that otherwise are restricted to state use only and suspends regulations that would impede rapid response. It also empowers emergency managers to use all available resources and personnel as deemed necessary.

Emergency Management Assistance Compacts -- ratified by Congress and law in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands -- allow states to provide mutual aid if needed.

Contributing: Army Sgt. 1st Class Jim Greenhill and Steve Marshall of the National Guard Bureau

Page last updated Fri November 9th, 2012 at 09:00