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National Guard Responds to Hurricane Irene

By Air Force Tech. Sgt. John Orrell
National Guard Bureau

ARLINGTON, Va., Aug. 26, 2011 – The governors of seven states declared states of emergency today, prompting National Guard adjutants general to upgrade hurricane condition levels and relocate assets in preparation for Hurricane Irene, Guard officials said today.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
Virginia National Guard soldiers in Sandston, Va., prepare for possible duty in response to Hurricane Irene by unloading pallets of cots and meals-ready-to-eat. The Virginia National Guard has been authorized to bring up to 300 personnel on state active duty for possible missions including high water transport and light debris removal. Virginia Department of Military Affairs photo by Cotton Puryear

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, North Carolina, New Jersey, New York and Virginia declared states of emergency, allowing them to use state resources such as their National Guard, with about 101,000 Guard members ready to assist potentially affected East Coast states if called upon by their governors.

In North Carolina, the National Guard has about 40 personnel activated for state active duty and an Emergency Operations Center communicating with the governor and the state emergency management office.

Irene was 490 miles south of Cape Hatteras, N.C., and is anticipated to make landfall tomorrow.

North Carolina Guard officials said the Guard is ready to answer the call, as they have many times before.

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell authorized about 300 Virginia Guard members to be activated yesterday. About 50 already have responded with the other 250 being alerted and expected to respond tonight.

“We will be staging personnel, vehicles and equipment to support missions such as high water transport and recovery, light debris removal and route clearance,” said Army Col. Gerald Catrett, director of operations for the Virginia National Guard.

“It is critical for us to have personnel in place and ready to respond before severe weather hits so we can rapidly respond when called,” he said.

Delaware is at hurricane condition three and will evacuate 13 aircraft, both Air and Army, to avoid damage, but no personnel evacuations are in the plans.

Army Maj. Gen. Francis Vavala, the adjutant general of the Delaware National Guard, said they are prepared to provide 200 Guard members within hours of request by the governor and up to 500 personnel can be called upon after 48 hours.

Connecticut, New Jersey and New York all are preparing for the worst and are ready to respond when called upon by their governors, Guard officials said.

In the wake of Irene, Puerto Rico was picking up the pieces and the National Guard had about 330 personnel activated to assist with the cleanup.

They are using landing craft and providing transportation for citizens with special needs, military equipment and heavy equipment to and from Vieques Island.

“This is the only National Guard [unit] that has this type of boat, and we are proud about that,” said Army Maj. Gen. Antonio Vicens, adjutant general of the Puerto Rico National Guard.

National Guard officials continue to monitor Irene.


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