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New York Guard Mobilizes for Blizzard

As winter storm threatens, troops prepare to assist state with traffic control, snow clearing and more
New York National Guard leaders get a situation update Jan. 26, as New York Army and Air Guard members are called to assist in the state’s blizzard response. Photo by SFC Raymond Drumsta
New York National Guard leaders get a situation update Jan. 26, as New York Army and Air Guard members are called to assist in the state’s blizzard response. Photo by SFC Raymond Drumsta

NEW YORK As blizzard warnings were being issued for the Northeast this morning, the New York National Guard put Soldiers and Airmen on duty to assist in the state's response to the storm at the direction of Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Army and Air National Guard units on Long Island, in New York City and in the Hudson Valley were ordered to stand up their initial response forces. Meanwhile the 204th Engineer Battalion—headquartered in Binghamton with elements in the Hudson Valley and New York’s Southern Tier counties—was directed to send snow-moving equipment and personnel to Long Island.

Initial response forces were stood up at the following locations:

  • Francis S. Gabreski Air National Guard Base in Westhampton Beach on Long Island
  • Armed Forces Reserve Center in Farmingdale on Long Island
  • Manor Road Armory complex on Staten island
  • Peekskill Armory in the Hudson Valley
  • Stewart Air National Guard Base in Newburgh in the Hudson Valley

Each initial response force consists of Soldiers and Airmen with Humvees. The teams are prepared for 24-hour operations so that 10 personnel will be on duty with each response force around the clock.

The response forces can conduct traffic control in support of local police agencies or move critical personnel and supplies as required.

Additional vehicles and personnel have been assigned to support New York City Fire Department emergency medical service locations in Manhattan, the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island. These military vehicles are on call to help move people and equipment as required by civilian first responders.

The 204th Engineer Company dispatched four front-end loaders, 10 dump trucks and seven small skid-steer front-end loaders, along with operators, to the Armed Forces Reserve Center in Farmingdale. The Soldiers and equipment will be on call if needed to assist with clearing snow.

Some of the Soldiers came from the 152nd Engineer Company in Buffalo. Last fall, the Soldiers of the 152nd were among the first New York National Guard units to respond to a massive lake-effect storm that hit Erie County on Nov. 19.

The New York National Guard stood up its Joint Operation Center in Latham to coordinate the response, while dispatching liaison officers to New York City’s Office of Emergency Management and county and regional emergency management centers in Nassau and Suffolk counties on Long Island and in the Hudson Valley.

The New York National Guard’s Joint Task Force Empire Shield, a security augmentation force operating in transportation hubs in New York City, remains on duty at LaGuardia Airport, John F. Kennedy International Airport, Pennsylvania Station, Grand Central Station and the Port Authority Trans-Hudson (PATH) terminal.

National Guard personnel in other Northeast states were poised Monday to assist local authorities during an expected massive snowfall, one described by the National Weather Service as a storm of “historic” proportions.

In Connecticut, Guard members were expected to be on duty by Monday night, providing highway assistance. Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy ordered a travel ban on state highways in response to the expected winter storm. That ban begins at 9 p.m. EST. 

“Although storms can be unpredictable, this storm has the potential to have a significant impact on the state, and we need to be prepared,” Malloy says. “Just as the state is monitoring and preparing, the public should do the same.”

— Steve Marshall of the National Guard Bureau contributed to this story.