The mobilization of the Missouri National Guard for emergency duty during the blizzard is the 19th time since 2005 the Guard has been called out for state emergencies.
Six hundred guard members were called up while the blizzard was on its way, giving them time to get ready. It has been almost entirely a ground operation because conditions kept helicopters and airplanes on the ground—the first helicopter didn’t get up until one flew along Interstate 70 on Wednesday looking for stranded travelers.
Major Tammy Spicer, the Guard’s spokesman, says this mobilization was unlike the other 18. She says the biggest problem was lack of mobility caused by the storm. She says the Guard played a big role in making sure emergency response services could reach areas that otherwise would have been blocked by heavy show and high drifts.
A lot of the equipment used this week is usually associated with actions in the Middle East. But Spicer says it’s not desert equipment, it’s off-road equipment that works wherever it is. It’s how the Guard was able to get through deep snow and deeper drifts to reach people in need.
Spicer says the big lesson learned with this mobilization is the value of mobilizing the Guard before, not after, disaster hits.