BLOG: Thank You PA National Guard, For Keeping Us Safe During The Storm
By: Governor Tom Wolf
January 25, 2016
One motto of the Pennsylvania National Guard is “Always Ready, Always There.” This weekend was no exception for the 326 Soldiers and Airmen who were called to state active duty in support of Winter Storm Jonas. As a result, several hundred people were rescued from the elements, sheltered, fed, and provided emergency medical care. These heroic men and women are what we call “citizen soldiers,” and protecting our citizens here in Pennsylvania is their number one duty. For that, we are extremely grateful.
Of the 326 troops activated over the weekend, 87 deployed to assist hundreds of stranded motorists on the Pennsylvania Turnpike. This emergency occurred after several tractor trailers were unable to climb through the mountains toward the Allegheny tunnels between Bedford and Somerset, causing a backlog of vehicles. Due to that backlog, emergency crews could not get heavy-duty tow trucks to the scene to clear the trucks – leaving over 500 vehicles with nowhere to go. As the Turnpike worked with other state agencies to clear the backlog, the National Guard deployed with shovels, food, water, and chains to assist with driver checks and stuck cars.
When buses arrived later in the day, the soldiers began helping people out of their vehicles to get them to warming shelters in Bedford. Over the course of this emergency situation, our troops delivered 4,000 meals to those in need.
Statewide, a total of 19 PA National Guard missions were performed during the 72 hour operation. Duties included:
- Assisting stranded motorists with food and water
- Transportation of medical personnel to patients in need of emergency services
- Transportation of Pennsylvania State Police and other law enforcement officers to their assigned duty locations and emergency calls
- Moving doctors, nurses and other essential medical personnel to and from public hospitals
- Driving emergency operations center staffs to and from EOCs
The response to this historic winter storm by our men and women in uniform is just another example of why we are so proud of our Pennsylvania National Guard, and their commitment to our commonwealth. Thank you for your hard work and selfless service.
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