USA — Guard Responds to Storm Damage, Water Main Break

ARLINGTON, Va., May 3, 2010 — Severe storms ripped through sev­er­al south­ern states over the week­end, leav­ing floods and dam­age through­out the region.
Nation­al Guard mem­bers were called upon in Arkansas and Ten­nessee to assist local emer­gency man­age­ment orga­ni­za­tions in search-and-res­cue and evac­u­a­tion efforts, respec­tive­ly. In Arkansas, the Guard respond­ed to calls for sup­port teams and equip­ment to assist with search-and-res­cue efforts due to tor­na­do dam­age to infra­struc­ture such as pow­er and water, Nation­al Guard Bureau offi­cials said.

“At rough­ly 10 p.m. [April 30], we received word that we were to deploy two coun­ty sup­port teams of about 50 per­son­nel,” said Army Capt. Chris Heath­scott, pub­lic affairs offi­cer for the Arkansas Guard. “Our troops were on the ground short­ly after 1 a.m. in order to sup­port the com­mu­ni­ties of East End and Scot­land.” Sol­diers from the 39th Infantry Brigade Com­bat Team pro­vid­ed sup­port and equip­ment to the mis­sion in Scot­land, and air­men from the 189th Air­lift Wing pro­vid­ed sup­port in East End, Heath­scott said.

“As of today, the air­men are still sup­port­ing the East End com­mu­ni­ty with secu­ri­ty oper­a­tions and traf­fic con­trol,” he said. In addi­tion to the per­son­nel sup­port, the Guard had two addi­tion­al mis­sions in Arkansas over the week­end, send­ing a 500-gal­lon water tanker to Scot­land and a gen­er­a­tor to Jack­son Coun­ty, Arkansas Guard offi­cials said.

Severe storms dumped heavy rains that caused flash flood­ing in Ten­nessee, and the Ten­nessee Guard pro­vid­ed evac­u­a­tion sup­port in Williamson and Hous­ton coun­ties. “We had the 1176th Trans­porta­tion Com­pa­ny go out yes­ter­day and escort peo­ple that were recov­ered from areas that had been walled up by water,” said Army Capt. Dar­rin Haas, deputy direc­tor of pub­lic affairs for the Ten­nessee Guard. “They assist­ed about 240 indi­vid­u­als and brought them out to stag­ing areas and shel­ters. They drove house-to-house also with high-water vehi­cles to knock on doors and ask peo­ple if they want­ed to be escort­ed out.”

The Guard also trans­port­ed sand­bags in Clarksville, Tenn., but most of their efforts had been focused on get­ting peo­ple to safe­ty, Haas said.

“Today, we’re begin­ning mis­sions to do debris removal,” he said. “The gov­er­nor of Ten­nessee and the adju­tant gen­er­al will be fly­ing around to access the dam­age. We’re doing every­thing the gov­er­nor asks, and we’re [here] to help the first respon­ders from our state and local gov­ern­ments, who are doing a fan­tas­tic job.”

Guard mem­bers also were called out in Mass­a­chu­setts for a mas­sive rup­ture of a crit­i­cal water main that sup­plies mil­lions of res­i­dents in the Boston area. About 450 Guards­men helped to dis­trib­ute bot­tled water and pro­vid­ed oth­er sup­port func­tions, Guard offi­cials said.

“The com­mon­wealth can rely on the Guard’s diverse capa­bil­i­ties, our strate­gi­cal­ly locat­ed units and our quick response dur­ing times of need,” said Army Maj. Gen. Joseph C. Carter, Mass­a­chu­setts adju­tant gen­er­al.

Nation­al Guard Bureau