(Sept. 16, 2013) More than 550 Colorado National Guardsmen and active-duty soldiers have rescued in excess of 2,100 people and hundreds of pets displaced by flooding in Colorado.
Active-duty soldiers and helicopters from Fort Carson, Colo., joined the Colorado National Guard in rescue efforts Friday.
Additionally, Guardsmen filled nearly 10,000 sandbags in Jefferson County to help civil authorities mitigate flooding effects.
The massive floods left at least four people dead, according to media reports.
Meanwhile, Defense Department spokesman George Little noted that Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel supported Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper's request Friday to establish a dual-status commander in the state.
Since then, he added, Brig. Gen. Peter J. Byrne, joint staff director for the Colorado National Guard’s Joint Force Headquarters, and his assigned forces of nearly 560 Colorado and Wyoming National Guard members have evacuated more than 2,100 residents.
National Guard officers designated as dual-status commanders have the authority to command both federal and National Guard forces during a domestic response. In the absence of the designation, federal troops operating under Title 10 authority report to one commander and National Guard members serving under Title 32 state active duty authority report to another.
"Active-duty forces, through the coordination and direction of U.S. Northern Command, are complementing these National Guard assets in the overall response to the flood relief efforts,” Little said. “Seven helicopters from the 4th Infantry Division at Fort Carson have been conducting search-and-rescue operations under immediate response authority.”
Despite dealing with some tough weather, the press secretary said, 4th Infantry Division soldiers have rescued more than 700 residents, including 85 elementary school students at a camp near Jamestown. Buckley Air Force Base has been designated as a Federal Emergency Management Agency staging area.
"This cooperative effort among active and reserve forces to protect lives in Colorado's flood-ravaged areas is a testament to the department's ability to provide critical and timely support to FEMA and first responders during a domestic crisis,” Little said. “Our thoughts and prayers are with all of those impacted by the events in Colorado and we hope for the continued safety for all emergency response personnel involved."