By Steve Marshall and Air Force Tech. Sgt. John Orrell National Guard Bureau
ARLINGTON, Va. – National Guard members and residents along the East Coast prepared today for Hurricane Sandy, which gained strength as it churned toward the eastern seaboard.
The storm was barreling north from the Caribbean and was expected to make landfall early Tuesday near the Delaware coast, then hit two winter weather systems while moving inland, creating the potential for a monster storm, according to the Associated Press.
At least 61,000 National Guard members are on hand, Guard officials said today.
As of 1:30 p.m. EDT today, governors in Connecticut, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Virginia and the mayor of Washington D.C., have declared states of emergency.
In Delaware, Gov. Jack Martell advised residents, “Be prepared to leave and be prepared to stay.” Delaware state agencies are planning for the worst, Martell said Friday.
National Guard units in Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Virginia and the District of Columbia are coordinating with authorities in the event Sandy makes landfall as predicted.
North Carolina alone has 10,000 Citizen-Soldiers standing by if needed.
"We are monitoring Hurricane Sandy closely and coordinating with our federal, state and local partners to ensure a coordinated and efficient response," said Gen. Frank J. Grass, chief of the National Guard Bureau. "Units across the National Guard are making the necessary preparations to respond to the needs of any states affected by Hurricane Sandy; rest assured the National Guard is poised and ready to provide proven responders and capabilities."
According to National Weather Service officials, the Category I storm could weaken into a tropical storm before it hits land in the Northeast/New England coast, but it could drop as much as 10 inches of rain along the coast on its northerly trajectory. If it collides with arctic air moving from the north and an early winter storm moving from the west, Sandy could potentially turn into what some weather officials are calling the “perfect storm.”
In Delaware, the 142nd Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron has nurses and med techs already on standby, while the Air Guard is moving all flyable equipment out of the storm’s path over the weekend. The Army Guard will be sheltering helicopters until the storm passes, at which point they can fly into action as needed, Delaware National Guard officials said.
"We are joined in a cooperative effort - to save lives, protect property, and support recovery efforts," Gen. Grass said.
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