National Guard Coordinates Storm Response With Civilian Agencies
From a National Guard Bureau News Release
ARLINGTON, Va., April 29, 2014 In the deadly aftermath of severe storms that struck earlier this week, men and women of the National Guard - in coordinated efforts with civilian agencies - are responding to communities in several states across the south.
Members of the Arkansas National Guard sift through debris left in the wake of a tornado that devastated communities in central Arkansas April 27, 2014. U.S. Army photo by Maj. Matt Snead
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
In Arkansas, storms hit hardest in the communities of Mayflower and Vilonia.
"We currently have 59 Guard members responding to tornado damaged areas," said Army Maj. Matt Snead, public affairs officer with the Arkansas National Guard. "We also have 22 Humvees [and several other vehicles and equipment] in use, and we are providing a staging area for the Federal Emergency Management Agency at Camp Robinson."
Snead said in addition to injuries and the death of an airman with the Arkansas Air National Guard, several Guard members have lost homes, businesses and other personal property.
"The communities of Mayflower and Vilonia are not very far from Camp Robinson and Little Rock Air Force Base," Snead said, "so we have a lot of our Guard members that live in these two communities."
To date this year, the Arkansas National Guard has performed more than 100 missions in response to severe weather. The missions have included manning traffic control points, conducting presence patrols and search and recovery operations, distributing water and aiding with access control.
Guard members also are responding in other states as a result of the severe weather.
In Mississippi, severe storms swept across the state, and several tornados caused devastating damage to Lee County, near Tupelo.
"We have approximately 50 Guard members in that area responding to tornado damage," said Tim Powell, the public affairs officer for the Mississippi National Guard.
"Additionally, we have [about 50 more] Guard members in Winston County near Louisville in the eastern part of the state," Powell added. "There was very extensive tornado damage there, and efforts have been shifting from search and rescue to recovery."
Powell said other missions being conducted by Guard members there include traffic control, checkpoints, presence patrols, and assisting local law enforcement as needed.
"Today, we are utilizing UH-72 Lakota helicopters for aerial damage assessment, and we're also providing some medical evacuation support in Winston County," Powell said. "We're working with the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency the Mississippi Department of Transportation for aerial damage assessments."
In addition to the UH-72s, Powell said, aircrews in a C-26 Metroliner aircraft would be taking real-time video aerial footage for damage assessment purposes.
"The tornadoes were widespread," Powell said, "and the men and women of the Mississippi National Guard responded very quickly and professionally."
In Tennessee, 20 Tennessee National Guard members are responding to storm damage, and about 100 Alabama National Guard members are on standby pending any further severe weather, Guard officials said.