National Guard Activated in Weather-Beaten N.Y.

By Sgt. Sara Wood, USA
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 13, 2006 - The New York governor has called up members of the New York Army and Air National Guard for state active duty in western New York following record-breaking, lake-effect snowfall in the region.

The Guard has been assigned to provide Humvees and drivers to the Erie County Medical Center in Buffalo, N.Y., to provide emergency transportation for medical personnel and to the Buffalo Fire Department to transport emergency medical technicians and evacuate patients as needed, said Army Lt. Col. Paul Fanning, a public affairs officer with the New York National Guard.

The Guard has established a forward operating headquarters at the Batavia Armory, east of Buffalo, until power is restored to its two armories located in the city, Fanning said.

Additional responsibilities are expected to come to the Guard as the situation continues to develop, he said. In the past, the Guard has assisted in snow removal and debris clearing, and the armories have been used as shelters.

Guard officials continue to work closely with New York's State Emergency Management Office and civil authorities in western New York counties and the city of Buffalo, Fanning said.

"I have directed state agencies to provide all assistance possible to these beleaguered areas that have been struck by this freak October snowstorm," Governor George Pataki said in a news release. "Personnel from numerous state agencies have worked throughout the night and continue today in assisting county and local governments."

Earlier today, Pataki declared a state of emergency in four western New York counties in response to the snow storms.

The Emergency Operations Center in Albany, N.Y., has been activated and staffed by numerous state agencies, including the National Guard. The Department of Transportation has dispatched more than 100 plow trucks, and tree removal personnel are converging on the area from as far away as Albany.

The lake-effect snows began hitting the western region of New York late yesterday and continued overnight and into today, depositing upwards of 2 feet of heavy, wet snow. Many roads have been closed, and snow-laden trees have crashed onto power lines, cutting power to more than 300,000 homes and businesses.

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