National Guard Troops Prepare for Hurricane Sandy
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Oct. 26, 2012 The National Guard Bureau has yet to receive requests for assistance, but is prepared to respond if needed to the expected arrival of Hurricane Sandy, the chief of the National Guard Bureau said today.
“We are monitoring Hurricane Sandy closely and coordinating with our federal, state and local partners to ensure a coordinated and efficient response,” Army Gen. Frank J. Grass said in a news release.
“Currently, there are no state or federal requests for National Guard assistance, but rest assured the National Guard is poised and ready to provide proven responders and capabilities,” Grass said.
Sandy, currently a Category 1 hurricane with winds upwards of 75 miles per hour, has prompted the governors of Maryland and Virginia to declare states of emergency today, National Guard Bureau officials said.
According to the officials, more than 61,000 National Guard personnel along the Eastern Seaboard will be available for duty, if and when, Hurricane Sandy makes landfall.
The Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and District of Columbia National Guard units are coordinating with authorities in the event Sandy makes landfall as predicted, officials said.
The New York National Guard Joint Operations Center will go to full staffing Oct. 28 and New York National Guard representatives will be manning the State Emergency Management Center over the weekend, according to New York National Guard officials.
The New York Army National Guard is planning for the deployment of an immediate response force on Oct. 29 of about 250 soldiers, officials added.
Army Maj. Gen. Patrick A. Murphy, the New York National Guard’s adjutant general, has asked the governor's office to request that Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta appoint Army Brig. Gen. Mike Swezey, commander of the 53rd Troop Command, as a dual-status commander for this event.
This status allows Swezey to command both National Guard and active duty reserve troops if the governor decides to request the assistance of federal assets.
Along with their efforts, Delaware National Guard officials said, the 142nd Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron has nurses and medical technicians on standby, while the Air National Guard is moving all flyable equipment out of the storm’s path over the weekend, Delaware National Guard officials said.
Army National Guard units will shelter their helicopters until the storm passes and will provide support as needed, Delaware National Guard officials said.
Grass said the National Guard Bureau is part of a collaborative effort to help citizens that could be affected by the hurricane.
“We are joined in a cooperative effort … with a single set of objectives -- to save lives, preserve peace and civil order, and support recovery efforts,” he said.
(The Delaware and New York Public Affairs offices and Air Force Maj. Gary Arasin contributed to this story.)