By Sgt. Sara WoodMay 8, 2007
WASHINGTON (Army News Service, May 8, 2007) - More than 300 members of the Kansas National Guard have been activated in response to a powerful tornado that almost destroyed the town of Greensburg, Kan., May 4.
Guard members are assisting in search-and-rescue efforts in the wake of the tornado, which was classified as an F-5, the highest rating given by the National Weather Service.
The tornado wiped out much of the small town, knocking out power, water, natural gas and communications. To date, 10 deaths and more than 100 injuries have been reported.
The Kansas National Guard's 278th Sustainment Brigade has established a joint task force near the incident site. In addition to search-and-rescue efforts, the troops are working on power generation, logistical support, debris clearing, support to law enforcement, supporting establishment of shelters and distribution of food and water.
Currently, the Kansas National Guard has 88 percent of its forces available, 60 percent of its Army Guard dual-use equipment on hand, and more than 85 percent of its Air Guard equipment on hand, said Randal Noller, public affairs officer for the National Guard Bureau. Under the Emergency Management Assistance Compact, a national partnership agreement that allows state-to-state assistance during governor or federally declared emergencies, Kansas has more than 400,000 Guardsmen available to it, he pointed out. However, Kansas has not yet requested assistance from other states.
The National Guard Bureau has offered liaison, operational, communications, contracting, search-and-rescue, public affairs and community relations support, and is prepared to support the governor in any way possible, Mr. Noller said.
The National Guard also has been activated in response to other severe weather in the Midwest. In South Dakota, 27 Guardsmen were activated in response to severe storms that moved through the region yesterday, destroying high voltage transmission lines and power poles and leaving several thousand customers without electricity. The Guard troops are transporting water pumps and generators and providing sandbags to prevent flooding.
In response to heavy rainfall Sunday night and yesterday, the Iowa National Guard deployed 47 troops in support of local authorities to assist in sandbagging operations in the city of Red Oak, Iowa. Iowa National Guard troops worked with civilian first responders moving sand, filling sand bags and building temporary dams to mitigate the effects of the rising waters.
(Sgt. Sara Wood writes for the American Forces Press Service.)