FARGO, N.D. — Although it was just last week that North Dakota got its first glimpse of what’s to come this winter, the North Dakota National Guard has been planning for a month for what the season may bring. With a look toward long-term forecasts and a close eye on mission capabilities and equipment statuses, plans have been carefully refined to position the Guard for emergency response, should it be needed.
The month of preparation is now officially complete. For the past four weeks, units have been organizing call lists of Guardsmen who can respond to particular areas with little notice. Personnel have been winterizing and preparing a wealth of equipment for what may come, including prepositioning graders and high-wheeled vehicles around the state.
This week launched the Guard into the potential response phase of winter operations. If requested, the Guard can assist civilian authorities with aerial search and rescue operations, transporting equipment and supplies by air, removing snow, helping with temporary shelter, and providing generator support for emergency, temporary power restoration.
“We have Guardsmen and equipment at the ready for any potential winter emergency should we be called on by the governor to respond,” said Maj. Gen. David Sprynczynatyk, North Dakota adjutant general. “We have trained with civilian responders and are capable and ready to work with them as the first military responders to any winter emergency. As always, we will be prepared to assist the people of North Dakota.”
This past winter, the North Dakota National Guard responded to several requests for support, the largest of which came in April 2010. After a snow and ice storm toppled about 12,000 power poles in central North Dakota, Guardsmen worked with Mor-Gran-Sou Electric Cooperative, the Department of Health and Department of Emergency Services to develop an assessment tool for locating and tracking damaged poles. Teams then headed out with clipboards, GPS devices and digital cameras to document the location and condition of damaged poles. That information assisted contractors and utility crews in expediently replacing the poles to restore power. Guardsmen also helped remove the broken poles and conductors, which were estimated to weigh more than 1,600 tons.
Since the 2001 terrorist attacks on America, the North Dakota National Guard has mobilized more than 3,500 Soldiers and more than 1,800 Airmen in support of the Global War on Terrorism. Currently, about 75 North Dakota Guardsmen are serving overseas while more than 4,000 remain in the state for emergency response and national defense. For every 10,000 citizens in North Dakota, 65 serve in the North Dakota National Guard, a rate that’s more than four times the national average.
High-resolution photos of April’s storm response are available for download at http://www.flickr.com/photos/ndguard/sets/72157623786432341/.