By Tech. Sgt. Mike R. SmithFebruary 11, 2008
ARLINGTON, Va. (Army News Service, Feb. 11, 2008) - Nearly 300 members of the National Guard responded to call-ups from governors in seven states for emergency assistance during the first week in February after tornados and severe thunderstorms leveled communities in the South and snowstorms left residents without power and motorists stranded in the West.
In the South, National Guard units in Arkansas, Kentucky and Tennessee continued operations into the weekend after an unseasonable string of winter thunderstorms and tornados charged through communities Feb. 5 and left large swaths of destruction, death and injuries.
In Kentucky, up to 139 Guard members with 32 Humvees, two UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters, one heavy equipment wrecker, one fuel tanker and a bus deployed to tornado-damaged areas.
The Kentucky Guard members provided emergency power for the Muhenberg Water Company and operated a mobile command post in Muhenberg County. Soldiers from the 307th Maintenance Company supported state and local law enforcement agencies at traffic control points.
In Arkansas, Army Guard Soldiers aided victims of a devastating tornado that touched down in Atkins. Arkansas National Guard troops from the 142nd Fires Brigade were called out late Feb. 5, and reported to disaster sites in the early hours of Feb. 6.
The Soldiers provided a 5,000-gallon water truck to Clinton as well as two 500-gallon water trailers and a generator to the Town of Mountain View. Guard aviation assets provided aerial reconnaissance for Gov. Mike Beebe and the state's Department of Emergency Management. Twenty-eight Guard members performed search and rescue missions in Atkins on Wednesday and aided with cleanup missions, through Friday.
The Tennessee National Guard was operating five UH-60s in aerial assessment missions. In addition, 24 Guard members were supporting civilian emergency response agencies with debris removal. Many are operating from a support base and civilian shelter at the Lafayette Armory.
Additional Tennessee Guard members were planning to supply emergency power for the Red Boiling Springs Water System and a hospital in Hartsville. Up to 150 Guard members were also planning to support debris removal operations in Macon, Trousdale and Sumner Counties.
In the West, where heavy snowfalls stranded residents and motorists, National Guard units in Wisconsin, Oregon, New Mexico and Idaho were slowing or halting their operations Friday after several days of emergency response missions.
After the winter storms stranded an estimated 800 motorists on a 19-mile stretch of Interstate-90 in Wisconsin, 68 Wisconsin National Guard Soldiers and Airmen deployed and conducted health and wellness checks and delivered about 5,000 bottles of water and about 350 packaged meals to stranded victims. The Guard also flew aerial surveillance missions for emergency response personnel.
Thirty-four members of the Oregon National Guard cleared snow away from roadways and utilities. Soldiers were operating two Army Guard mine detectors to locate fire hydrants, water covers and pipes.
New Mexico National Guard members provided assistance to the town of Chama after Gov. Bill Richardson declared a state of emergency for Rio Arriba County. Twenty-seven Soldiers were assisting local residents with snow removal.
In Idaho, 63 Guard members deployed Feb. 2 to remove snow from the roofs of nine schools in the northern part of the state after four feet of snow crippled school systems in three counties.
(Tech. Sgt. Mike R. Smith serves with the National Guard Bureau.)