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NEWS | Dec. 21, 2006

National Guard aids victims of holiday winter storm

By Tech. Sgt. Mike R. Smith National Guard Bureau

ARLINGTON, Va - The first day of winter hammered the Midwest, and the National Guard helped to soften the blow.

More than 60 Colorado National Guard members and their equipment jumped into action Dec. 20-21, Guard officials said, as travelers became trapped by a blizzard that blanketed north-central and northeast Colorado five days before Christmas.

Responding to the blizzard was just one more example of how Guard members respond to emergencies in their state and in the country.

Officials said Colorado Gov. Bill Owens declared a statewide disaster emergency which activated the National Guard to assist in road safety efforts. Guard equipment was pre-positioned throughout the state in anticipation of the storm.

Guard Soldiers deployed with Humvees to downtown Denver to provide emergency transportation, the National Guard Bureau reported. They also assisted the Colorado Department of Transportation and the Colorado State Patrol by rescuing trapped motorists, and they cleared abandoned vehicles from blocked highways.

Soldiers transported and distributed drinking water and baby formula to families among the more than 4,000 travelers marooned at the Denver International Airport.

The Guard members helped re-supply Red Cross shelters. And Colorado Guard vehicles delivered donated blankets to an emergency shelter in Pueblo.

The state's joint operations center also coordinated and prepared response plans and was open 24 hours a day for as long as needed.