Big Storm Activates Guard, Closes NGAUS

NGAUS Washington Report

(Oct. 31, 2012) About 12,000 citizen-soldiers and airmen were on duty in 11 states Tuesday night in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, according to the National Guard Bureau.
 
National Guard assistance to local first responders and the Federal Emergency Management Agency included support at evacuation shelters, route clearance, search and rescue and delivery of essential equipment and supplies.
 
Meanwhile, the nation’s capital was returning to normal this morning. The federal government, which had been closed for two days, was back at work. The Metro public transportation system, which was closed Monday and until 2 p.m. Tuesday, was up and running.
 
NGAUS, too, was open after being closed for two days. The office at the National Guard Memorial takes its cue from the federal government.
 
The focus of National Guard missions was quickly shifting to recovery in the aftermath of the storm.
 
The governors of 12 states and the mayor of the District of Columbia had declared a state of emergency because of the storm, now downgraded to a post-tropical cyclone even as it made its way further inland and continued to wreak havoc. The states are Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and Virginia.
 
Guard members were assembling and staging in Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, Rhode Island and Virginia, according to the National Guard Coordination Center, which monitors the response spearheaded by the states.
 
In Connecticut, Guard members were responding to evacuation security support and high-wheeled search and rescue missions. High-wheeled vehicles were supporting civilian authorities in Maryland. In Massachusetts, a National Guard Civil Support Team was on stand-by for a possible hazardous materials response.
 
In New Jersey, Guard members were assisting state police. In New York and Pennsylvania, they were assisting state emergency managers. In Virginia, Guardsmen were assisting with debris removal.
 
Each affected state was monitoring, assessing and responding as needed, and National Guard Bureau officials were monitoring and coordinating from the federal level.
 
Gen. Frank Grass, the chief of the National Guard Bureau, briefed President Barack Obama on the National Guard response in support of state, local and federal agencies as part of a FEMA briefing Sunday.
 
On Monday, Grass was in dawn-to-dusk meetings with senior National Guard leaders, FEMA officials, the adjutants general and the secretary of defense, among others, to monitor and respond to the storm that has affected millions of Americans.
 
“We had to be ready to respond big and fast, so the National Guard ramped up in multiple states this weekend preparing to support local, state and federal civilian authorities,” Grass said.
 
National Guard officials were ready for the possibility of state requests for mutual aid.
 
“Additional Army Guard forces, from outside the immediate hurricane-affected states, are prepared to meet gaps in essential functions, if requested," said Lt. Gen. William E. Ingram, Jr., the director of the Army National Guard.
 
States were indicating early Tuesday that all needs were currently met.
 
The National Guard Bureau is monitoring the situation closely and coordinating with state, federal and local partners to ensure a coordinated and efficient response, Guard officials said.
 
Secretary of Defense Leon E. Panetta agreed with the governors of Maryland, New Hampshire, New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts and Rhode Island to appoint dual-status commanders as Hurricane Sandy approached, according to Defense Department reports.