FORT INDIANTOWN GAP, Pa.– More than 650 members of both the Pennsylvania Air and Army National Guard were placed on state active duty to support Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency directed missions throughout the state during Winter Storm Stella from March 13-15.
By March 13, Guard members were positioned in armories statewide with equipment and troops ready. As the storm intensified, missions began arriving from PEMA to the joint emergency operations center for the Pennsylvania National Guard here. The joint emergency operations center then directed the incoming missions to the task forces.
Upon receipt of the missions, troops braved the weather to help their fellow citizens. Guard members completed 25 PEMA-directed missions. The missions included: transporting hospital personnel to their place of work, assisting disabled vehicles, transporting Pennsylvania State Police, clearing roads and assisting with the transportation of a 23-month-old baby who needed critical surgery.
"This response illustrates the dynamic dual-status role of the Guard," said Brig. Gen. Tony Carrelli, Pennsylvania's adjutant general. "At the direction of the governor, we are able to provide assistance to our communities during critical weather incidents like this one."
In one of the hardest-hit areas of the state, the northeast portion, Task Force North kept busy. "During our missions to transport hospital personnel we used 56 vehicles, spent more than 2600 man hours and operated for more than 3,300 miles," said Army Col. Michael Konzman, Pennsylvania Task Force North commander.
During state activations the Pennsylvania National Guard organizes into task forces. The task forces are organized geographically: Pennsylvania Task Force North, Pennsylvania Task Force South, and Pennsylvania Task Force West. These geographic commands are augmented by two functional task forces, Task Force Support and Task Force Aviation. All task forces were activated for Winter Storm Stella.
Nearly 1,800 Guard members from multiple states in the Mid-Atlantic region were activated to assist with the blizzard.
"I'm proud of our Pennsylvania National Guard service members for their dedication and professionalism during this storm," said Carrelli. "Job well done."