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N.Y. Guard troops on duty for year's first major snow storm

By Eric Durr | New York National Guard | Jan. 18, 2019

LATHAM, N.Y. – The New York National Guard placed over 450 Soldiers and Airmen on duty Friday, at the direction of New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, as the first major snow storm of 2019 headed for New York and the Northeast.

"The impending storm will be problematic and dangerous because it will be a high level of snow over a large geographic area, and the state is deploying significant resources in preparation," Cuomo said. "Drivers should stay off the roads unless absolutely necessary and residents should prepare for potential power outages. Emergency Operations Centers are activated throughout the state this weekend to monitor the situation and we are already deploying significant additional resources and assets to ensure the safety of all New Yorkers throughout the duration of this storm."

State officials warned New Yorkers to expect 12 to 24 inches of snowfall throughout upstate New York over the weekend with Winter Storm Warnings across all of upstate.

The storm will begin to roll in from the Southwest Saturday morning and overspread the state Saturday afternoon into evening. The heaviest of the snowfall will be overnight Saturday through the day Sunday.

Snowfall forecasts have remained the same with the majority of upstate set to receive14 to 20 inches and a portion of the Albany area receiving up to 24 inches. Snow will linger into Monday with gusting winds causing blowing snow conditions.

The New York National Guard was prepared to deploy 200 Soldiers and Airmen in 10 Immediate Response Force (IRF) teams at air bases and armories across the state from Long Island to Buffalo. The New York Air National Guard operates from five bases.

Each team consists of 20 Soldiers or Airmen and five Humvees or tactical trucks. The IRFs are capable of providing transportation support to police or other critical personnel, moving key supplies, and conducting limited debris clearance missions.

“If 174th personnel deploy in support of the governor’s request for the impending snow storm, there is the possibility that they would take part in lifesaving activities,” said Chief Master Sgt. Kevin Scanlin, the wing's emergency manager. “Some of our folks could be picking up doctors, nurses and delivering them to the area hospitals while others could be assisting local or state law enforcement on doing wellness checks of stranded motorist. These are some of the missions we have done in past natural disasters.”

Joint Task Force Empire Shield, the New York National Guard security augmentation element in the New York City metropolitan, area also stood up response forces prepared to assist New York City government. The 750-Soldier and -Airmen task force has 25 vehicles standing by to provide mobility support and also assist in debris removal with chain saw teams. About 100 Soldiers are assigned to the storm response mission.

Another 150 Soldiers and Airmen were standing by to conduct logistics support and mission command operations.

Debris clearance teams were placed on standby at the 105th Airlift Wing at Stewart Air National Guard in Newburgh and at the 109th Airlift Wing at Stratton Air National Guard Base in Scotia.

New York Army National Guard Soldiers and trucks will also be stationed at New York State emergency supply stockpile locations across the state to transport emergency supplies if required.

A total of 105 vehicles are committed to the response mission.

Maj. Gen. Raymond Shields, the adjutant general of New York, also placed a small number of members of the New York State Defense Forces; the New York Naval Militia and the New York Guard; on state active duty to assist in the storm response.

Trained New York Guard personnel are conducting chain saw training classes for New York National Guard Soldiers and both the Naval Militia and the New York Guard are providing personnel to augment headquarters operations.