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Homeland Security

Partnership built during exercises, succeeds during disaster

March 4, 2012

By Pfc. Lerone Simmons, 133rd MPAD, Kentucky National Guard

FRANKFORT, Ky. -- Kentucky's Emergency Operations Center, a situation room and heart of recovery and relief efforts, buzzed with activity March 3 after Gov. Steve Beshear declared a statewide emergency March 2. The declaration allowed local officials immediate access to state resources, including the Kentucky National Guard, to assist with public security and safety.

"Without the EOC, there would be a lack of command and control," said Kentucky National Guard Lt. Col. Jeffery Hughes, director of military support, Joint Operations Center.

Hughes said the Kentucky National Guard, in coordination with Emergency Management officials, were on alert 72 hours before storms ripped through the Commonwealth March 2.

Staff at the EOC collect reports from sources throughout Kentucky when in states of emergency. They then work with other organizations to provide relief to areas that need support.

State and federal officials, in cooperation with the Kentucky National Guard, direct troop and organization movement from the EOC located at the Boone National Guard Center in Frankfort, Ky.

"EOC gives requests to JOC for sourcing requests, which funnels request to the best Kentucky National Guard unit suited," Hughes said.

More than 400 Kentucky National Guardsmen mobilized to provide relief and recovery efforts to victims of three waves of storms that produced 13 tornados that devastated the Commonwealth March 2.

"I'm proud of the work and efforts of our Guardsmen," said Brig. Gen. John Heltzel, director of Kentucky Emergency Management, "and all of our partners working together."

Heltzel said recent national-level exercises tailored to disaster scenarios proved its worth during the relief efforts after the disaster.

"The Guard is crucial to what we do," said Stephanie Robey, manager of the Kentucky Department of Emergency Management's recovery branch.

"Our partnership is crucial to protecting public interest, people and property," she said.

"You can always depend on the Guard," she said.

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