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Homeland Security

American Forces Press Service

National Guard Responds to Winter Storms

By Army Staff Sgt. Jim Greenhill
Special to American Forces Press Service

ARLINGTON, Va., Jan. 26, 2010 – The National Guard responded to severe weather in the Dakotas and Arizona yesterday.

In South Dakota – where National Guard officials said about 6,000 people were without power during strong winter storms with high wind, snow and freezing rain – Guard members set up generators at the Cheyenne River Indian Reservation, worked to reopen roads and prepared for search-and-rescue operations.

South Dakota’s response included bulldozers and recovery vehicles staged in three cities, and personnel called up for snow removal and to tackle ice accumulations on roads and power lines.

In North Dakota, civilian media reported about 2,500 people without power. Travel was said to be virtually impossible in parts of the state, and the state’s homeland security division issued a “no travel advisory.”

The North Dakota National Guard assisted with aerial surveillance of power lines. Storms downed lines and poles, and the state remained under a blizzard warning. The Guard also prepared for search-and-rescue operations, snow removal, temporary shelter requirements and other missions such as providing high-wheel vehicles for transportation or helping to restore power, said Army Staff Sgt. Billie Jo Lorius, deputy public affairs officer.

The winter storm first hit the region Jan. 19.

In Arizona – with northern counties experiencing similar storms to the Dakotas and forecasters predicting more to come midweek – Guard members transported water and prepositioned trucks.

The Nevada National Guard sent CH-47 Chinook and UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters to assist flooded communities around Flagstaff and northern Arizona.

The Navajo Indian Reservation was one area where Arizona officials anticipated aerial operations. Civilian media were reporting that the Navajo Nation president asked for assistance after snow trapped reservation residents in their homes. The National Guard assisted with the delivery of medicine, food, fuel and hay to isolated Navajo and Hopi lands.

Arizona Guard leaders said the operation might continue for up to two weeks.

While Guard members respond to the president for national emergencies and overseas operations, state governors call their Guard members up as needed.

(Army Staff Sgt. Jim Greenhill serves at the National Guard Bureau. Army Sgt. Monette Wesolek of the Arizona National Guard and Army Maj. Brendan Murphy of the South Dakota National Guard contributed to this report.)


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