U.S. NORTHCOM Directs Possible Storm Aid for Icy Midwest
By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Dec. 14, 2007 Active military elements are preparing to assist federal emergency responders to help beleaguered Midwest residents cope with the effects of recent massive ice storms, a senior U.S. military officer told Pentagon reporters here today. (Video)
Army Maj. Gen. Richard Sherlock, Joint Chiefs' director of operational planning, listens to a question from local media during a press briefing in the Pentagon Dec. 14, 2007. Defense Dept. photo by U.S. Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Molly A. Burgess
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
“In anticipation of requests for assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the commander of U.S. Northern Command has ordered the deployment of U.S. Army North defense coordinating officers and a defense coordinating element to assist Midwest residents suffering from the heavy ice storms and extreme winter weather,” Army Maj. Gen. Richard Sherlock, the Joint Chiefs’ director of operational planning, announced at a Pentagon news conference.
In recent days, thousands of citizens in eastern Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Missouri have been dealing with paralyzing ice storms that downed power lines and closed roads, schools, businesses and airports across the region. The Ohio Valley and the northeastern United States also have been hit by severe winter weather.
The military officers are being deployed to Denton, Texas, and Kansas City, Mo., Sherlock said. Their role, he explained, is to coordinate the use of all active-duty personnel and equipment that may be requested by FEMA as part of a potential storm-response effort.
National Guard members from Missouri, Kansas and Oklahoma have been contributing generator-provided electricity, cots, water, debris removal, and door-to-door checks in rural regions, according to military reports.
The battered Midwest areas are bracing for another storm system predicted to arrive sometime today, according to news reports.
The 20 or so deployed officers “will be coordinating a federal response, should a federal response be asked for,” Sherlock said, noting there has been no request for such assistance.
U.S. Army North is a component of NORTHCOM, which is the unified combatant command responsible for defending the homeland and providing defense support of civil authorities during natural disasters and other emergencies.