National Guard Responds to Tornadoes, Floods
By Army Staff Sgt. Jim Greenhill and Army Sgt. Darron Salzer
National Guard Bureau
ARLINGTON, Va., Jun. 2, 2011 Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick has declared a state of emergency and ordered up to 1,000 National Guard members to support civilian authorities after deadly tornadoes caused property damage and power outages across the state yesterday afternoon.
Army Pfc. Brian Smith, right, of the South Dakota Army National Guard places sandbags on a levee at the Pierre, S.D., water reclamation plant to protect the facility from flood waters, May 31, 2011. More than 620 South Dakota National Guard soldiers and airmen are in the area assisting with flood relief efforts. National Guard photo by Officer Candidate Chad Carlson
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
About 450 citizen-soldiers and -airmen already were on duty this morning, the Massachusetts National Guard reported.
At least four people were killed, dozens were injured, damage hit 19 Massachusetts communities and tens of thousands of residents were without power after severe weather, according to civilian media reports.
Among other duties, Guard members were expected to assist with damage assessment, debris removal, health and wellness checks, route clearance, traffic control points and road closures, Guard officials reported.
Air Guard officials were assessing possible damage at the Barnes Air National Guard Base near Westfield, Mass.
Meanwhile, the number of National Guard members responding to severe spring flooding rose to about 4,300 over the weekend as parts of the Missouri River began to swell in Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota.
Other states -- including Tennessee, Vermont and Wyoming -- also are seeing flooding as flood operations in Kentucky come to a close.
As of 5 p.m. May 31, about 2,000 North Dakota Guard members were on state active duty in response to rising waters in Burleigh, Morton and Ward counties, as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers opened upriver dams oversaturated with heavy rainwater and snowmelt.
Snowmelt is predicted to cause flooding in Wyoming, where about 115 Guard members are performing sandbagging operations ahead of the floods as the state continues to see a warming trend. The Wyoming Guard has opened its state operations center and is working with civil authorities to stay ahead of the waters, a Guard official said.
Montana also saw more snow than usual in the mountains over the winter, and heavy rains combined with the snowmelt have caused flooding in that state as well. About 97 Guard members there are performing security operations.
Heavy rains have contributed to rising waters in Vermont, where more than 90 Guard members have been evacuating residents from around lakebed areas. Officials there said rains have been consistent almost every day for about a month.
In Louisiana and Mississippi, Guard members continue their battle after severe storms swelled the Mississippi River earlier this year. Operations in both states -- including transportation support, levee patrol and inspection, search-and-rescue missions and levee security missions -- are scheduled to continue, officials said.
(This article includes information from CBS Boston.)