Members of the National Guard are being activated all along the East Coast to be ready in case civilians or first responders need their assistance in the aftermath of Winter Storm Stella’s assault on the Northeast.
According to the National Guard Bureau, as many as 1,700 guardsman have been activated as far south as Virginia to assist in each state’s multi-agency response to the storm. While the objectives vary state by state, many in the guard are currently preparing to use Humvees, and light to medium tactical trucks in support of first responders or to evacuate civilians trapped in unsafe circumstances. Other guard teams are preparing to assist in debris reduction using heavy equipment and chainsaws to clear roads.
“Once again, our soldiers have demonstrated their ability to safely and rapidly position troops and equipment at key locations so they are ready to assist citizens of the Commonwealth during times of hazardous weather,” said Major General Timothy P. Williams, the adjutant general of Virginia.
“Our emergency response partners at the state and local level count on our capabilities as part of the overall response plan, and we continue to demonstrate that we are a force that will always be there when we are needed. We also owe a special thanks to our families and employers for their support that is so vital to our success.”
Local and state authorities are recommending that everyone in the region effected by the storm stay indoors and avoid any unnecessary travel. Travel bans have been put into place in a number of effected states, including Connecticut.
“Wherever you are at sunrise Tuesday morning, expect to remain there throughout the remainder of the storm and into (Tuesday) night,” Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy said, adding there were exceptions for professions like first responders.
A number of states have already declared a state of emergency, with snowfall limiting mobility in states all along the coast. As of 1:50 pm on Tuesday, as many as 60,000 people are already without power in Massachusetts. Gusts of wind reaching seventy miles per hour have been reported in Cape Cod, and at least one wind turbine has collapsed in Rhode Island due to the severe winds alone.
Atlantic City has reported significant coastal flooding, resulting in as many as 40,000 residents losing power amid the brutal conditions brought in by the storm. In Connecticut, state troopers had already reported at least fifteen severe crashes on the highway by 10:00 Tuesday morning.
Although National Guard units are positioned to assist, they are not providing direct responses to requests for aid and must be allocated where they can help by state emergency service directors. The Virginia National Guard director of joint operations, Army Colonel Thomas L. Morgan III, recommends calling 911 if you find yourself in an emergency.
“If you are in a dangerous situation and need assistance, please contact your local dispatcher or call 911,” Morgan said. “If you let them know you need help, they will determine the most effective emergency services response for your situation. They will contact the Guard if it is appropriate for us to respond, and we will follow-up as quickly as possible.”
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