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