By Lt. Col. Angela King-Sweigart | Pennsylvania National GuardAugust 3, 2018
FORT INDIANTOWN GAP, Pa.-- Approximately 70 members of the Pennsylvania National Guard were placed on state active duty to support 11 Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency directed missions in Central Pennsylvania during summer flooding July 23 to July 27.
Several days of rain left much of Central Pennsylvania's waterways at near-record highs. The Swatara Creek near Hershey, Pa. reached 16.5 feet on July 25, the second highest level since the National Weather Service started keeping records in 1975. In Grantville, Pa. near the Pennsylvania National Guard's headquarters here rain totaled 11.4 inches as of July 25.
The flooding led to the Pennsylvania National Guard's activation to assist in transportation missions with vehicles capable of fording high waters, located here, as well as helicopters and crews with the Pennsylvania Helicopter Aquatic Rescue Team, located here and in Johnstown, Pennsylvania. The team is a partnership between the Pennsylvania Army National Guard, the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, and the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency along with credentialed civilian rescue technicians.
On July 23 the Pennsylvania Helicopter Aquatic Rescue Team based at Fort Indiantown Gap assisted local law enforcement and first responders in searching for a missing woman in the Conewago Creek, Dauphin County. The aircraft was in the air for 1.5 hours and then had to return to base due to weather.
On July 25 Soldiers assisted the Middle Paxton Fire Company with the rescue of a stranded resident from their home, returning them to the temporary shelter at the local fire station. Two Pennsylvania National Guard Soldiers used a Light Medium Tactical Vehicle (LMTV) for this mission.
"Soldiers of the 628th Aviation Support Battalion are always eager to come in and support state active duty. Their sense of duty and commitment to the people of the commonwealth is apparent every time they go on mission. They want to get out there and help in any way they can. Mr. Robert Rusbatch and his first responders of the Middle Paxton Fire Company were a pleasure to work with. We at the 628th Aviation Support Battalion sincerely appreciated his hospitality throughout the mission," said Capt. Samuel DeBold, operations officer for the 628th Aviation Support Battalion.
During state activations the Pennsylvania National Guard organizes into geographic task forces, Pennsylvania Task Force North, Pennsylvania Task Force South, and Pennsylvania Task Force West. These geographic commands are augmented by two functional task forces, Task Force Support and Task Force Aviation.
Other Pennsylvania National Guard members prepared at their armories and air stations for possible call-ups, manned the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency's Commonwealth Response Coordination Center in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. and monitored and provided oversight to current Pennsylvania National Guard response operations from the Joint Emergency Operations Center at Fort Indiantown Gap during the flood emergency.
Founded in 1747, the Pennsylvania National Guard is one of the largest National Guards in the nation and is comprised of nearly 20,000 Soldiers and Airmen in more than 90 communities across the Commonwealth.