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Disaster Response Planning Aids Washington Guard Flood Response

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Nov. 8, 2006 – Washington National Guard officials call their fast, coordinated response to flooding in the state the direct result of groundwork already laid with state and local officials in planning for disaster response.

About 250 members of the Washington Army and Air National Guard remain on duty today, supporting civil authorities after torrential rains caused severe flooding that threatened nearly 300 homes, killed one person and left others stranded, Army Lt. Col. Debbie Allen, public affairs officer for the Washington Guard, told American Forces Press Service.

Gov. Chris Gregorie declared a state of emergency in 18 counties late Nov. 6, and the Washington Guard responded “within hours,” Allen said from the Joint Operations Center at Camp Murray, Wash.

More than 300 Guardsmen were on duty yesterday, but 69 were inactivated today after weather conditions began to change and civilian authorities were able to operate without Guard support in their areas, Allen reported.

The Guardsmen who remain on duty are manning security points in two counties, using vehicles and troops to guard roads, control access to flooded areas and prevent looting, she said. They also are working with the U.S. Coast Guard and local authorities to conduct search-and-rescue operations.

Close coordination with state and local officials during the past two years to plan and rehearse disaster response operations ensured a fast, coordinated response, Allen said.

“This has been a very good exercise for us in terms of response,” she said. “We had good relationships and good partnerships, and as a result, this came together perfectly.”

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