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Iowa National Guard Responds to Tornado Disaster

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, April 14, 2006 – About 30 Iowa Army National Guard troops were called to duty last night to help local police maintain security after a wave of storms blew through the eastern part of the state and a tornado hit in the heart of Iowa City.

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Sgt. Shane Thirtyacre from the Iowa Army National Guard's Headquarters Support Company, 109th Area Support Medical Battalion, shows an Iowa City man a safe route through the city following severe storms and a tornado that struck the state April 13. Photo by Tim Mills
  

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Members of the 109th Area Support Medical Battalion and 67th Troop Command, both based in Iowa City, responded after Gov. Tom Vilsack declared a state emergency, state public affairs officer Army Lt. Col. Greg Hapgood the reported. The troops worked through the night, providing security, helping control traffic and keeping people away from dangerous areas and helping assess damage. More than 100 buildings "have either fallen or are falling down" and the city is confronted with downed power lines, broken gas mains and scattered debris, Hapgood said.

"Our job is to keep people away from these areas and to keep them from trying to go back into buildings," he said. "There's a huge opportunity for people to get hurt here, and we're working to help prevent that."

The guardsmen provided 145 cots and 275 blankets for displaced residents.

It was unclear how long the troops will remain on duty, particularly with another line of storms headed to the state. A second 30-member rotation took over security duties this morning.

"We're ready to do this indefinitely, as needed, to keep the people of Iowa safe," Hapgood said.

The tornado response exemplifies the Iowa Guard's readiness and commitment, he said. "It doesn't matter where they're needed - here at home in the state of Iowa or in the combat theater - they're ready at a moment's notice to get the job done," he said.

"They're well-trained and very well-led, and they take tremendous pride in carrying out their mission," he said.

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Click photo for screen-resolution imageSgt. Shane Thirtyacre with the Iowa Army National Guard's Headquarters Support Company, 109th Area Support Medical Battalion, ties caution tape to keep Iowa City residents safe from debris caused by April 13 storms and a tornado. Photo by Tim Mills  
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageDamaged vehicles litter the streets of downtown Iowa City following an April 13 tornado. Photo by Tim Mills  
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