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NY National Guard responds to snowstorm

By Eric Durr | New York National Guard | Dec. 10, 2019

LATHAM, N.Y. – Hundreds of members of the New York National Guard mobilized to help clear snow following a two-day storm that dumped 2 feet of snow in some areas.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo declared an emergency in seven counties and ordered the deployment of up to 300 members of the Guard following the state capital’s 8th biggest snowstorm on record.

The emergency declaration covered Ulster, Schenectady, Saratoga, Rensselaer, Greene, Columbia and Albany counties. National Guard personnel and equipment helped local governments deal with the snow.

The National Guard is “just indispensable in these situations,” Cuomo said.

A small number of New York National Guard Soldiers and Airmen began reporting for duty at Camp Smith Training Site near Peekskill, New York National Guard Headquarters in Latham, and Stratton Air National Guard Base in Scotia, the evening of Dec. 2. More troops reported the morning of Dec. 3.

The 109th Airlift Wing stood up a Joint Task Force headquarters to handle missions in the northern part of the emergency area, while the 53rd Troop Command staffed a Joint Task Force for Hudson Valley missions.

Soldiers from the 42nd Combat Aviation Brigade, and the 1156th Engineer Company, and Airmen from the 109th Airlift Wing and 105th Airlift Wing responded. Volunteers from the New York Naval Militia and New York Guard also mobilized.

Personnel from Joint Task Force Empire Shield reported into Camp Smith and then Stratton Air National Guard Base to assist.

A total of 363 people participated in the mission through Dec. 7, including 234 Army National Guard Soldiers, 114 Air National Guard Airmen, 10 New York Guard members and five members of the New York Naval Militia.

The bulk of the missions involved shoveling snow from around fire hydrants in towns and villages in Columbia County, Rensselaer County and Schenectady County – a major help to volunteer fire departments, said Larry Eisen, a captain in the Palmer Engine and Hose Company in Kinderhook.

“We have 106 fire hydrants in the village and we are a volunteer department,” Eisen said. “In a fire, shoveling out the hydrant could add 5 or 6 minutes to our response time. This is a real lifesaver.”

The 1156th Engineer Company also dispatched five LMTV dump trucks to help haul away snow in Schenectady.

The mission ended Dec. 7 in Rotterdam with a fire hydrant clearance mission. Over six days, the Guard cleared 1,621 fire hydrants and moved 4,000 tons of snow.