ARLINGTON, Va. - National Guard personnel from Alabama through Pennsylvania and the Northeast were gearing up for duty today as a storm began dumping ice and snow on southern roads.
By mid-day, troops were busy in Georgia and South Carolina as ice and snow pelted the region.
"This storm has come in waves and there is another wave coming toward us now," Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal said at a noon news conference. At that event, officials announced that about 1,000 Georgia Guard personnel were on duty throughout the area.
Deal credited National Guard personnel with escorting home four blind students who had no way to get home to the Atlanta area after their school closed in Macon.
As of mid-day, no residents took advantage of shelter being offered at National Guard facilities, state officials said.
Deal thanked residents who had heeded the advice to keep off roads. Still, some photos showed Airmen emerging from ice-crusted vehicles to assist motorists on icy roads.
The South Carolina Army National Guard is providing 14 wrecker teams to various staging areas in the state to support the South Carolina Department of Public safety in response to the ice storm sweeping across the Southeast.
Snow was to start tonight in the Middle Atlantic, including Washington, D.C., Maryland and Pennsylvania and then spread northward into Thursday night. The weather service said snow may continue in portions of New England before ending later Friday.
The Virginia National Guard has been authorized to bring up to 300 Soldiers, Airmen and members of the Virginia Defense Force on state active duty.
The Virginia Guard plans to stage personnel at readiness centers along the I-81 corridor and in the Central Virginia area along Route 29, I-64 and I-95 in order to be ready to support potential response missions. The alert process to notify personnel to report for duty has begun, and they are scheduled to be in place by late afternoon to respond if needed.
Gov. Terry McAuliffe declared a Virginia state of emergency Tuesday, an action that authorizes state agencies to be ready to assist local governments in responding to the major snow storm forecast to hit the Commonwealth.
In declaring a state of emergency, the governor authorizes state agencies to identify and position resources for quick response anywhere they are needed in Virginia and allows the Virginia National Guard to begin alerting and staging forces.
Other states in the projected path of the storm took similar action, including Delaware, where 120 Soldiers and Airmen awaited the call to duty. If needed, they will help transport Delwareans to safety, transport police and other first responders and assist stranded drivers.
"Now is the time for Virginia to get ready for this storm," McAuliffe said. "This state of emergency declaration will empower the Virginia Department of Emergency Management, the Department of Transportation, the Virginia National Guard, and our electric and cable utilities to prepare for a storm that is predicted to create power outages and significant travel challenges across the Commonwealth over the next few days."
Potential missions for the Virginia Guard and Virginia Defense Force include assisting stranded motorists, transportation of healthcare professionals and the seriously ill to medical treatment facilities, transportation of personnel or equipment to potential heating or sheltering locations and downed tree removal, said Col. James Zollar, director of joint operations for the Virginia Guard.
"We need to get our personnel and equipment staged at key locations before the severe weather hits so we can rapidly respond when we are needed," he said.
Contributing: Cotton Puryear of the Virginia National Guard, Maj. Cindi King of the South Carolina National Guard and Steve Marshall of the National Guard Bureau