New York Guard Prepares to Respond to Upstate Snow Emergency

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 9, 2007 - The New York National Guard is preparing to assist local communities stricken by a winter storm that has dumped as much as 10 feet of snow in some areas, a state National Guard spokesman said today.

"Based on the current conditions in Oswego County, elements of the New York National Guard are leaning forward to plan and provide whatever response and resources may be called upon by the New York State leadership," Army National Guard Lt. Col. Richard Goldenberg reported from the state's joint force headquarters in Latham, N.Y., near Albany.

The snowstorm that began Feb. 4 has hit upstate areas like Oswego County, N.Y., particularly hard, Goldenberg said. The storm's intensity prompted Gov. Eliot Spitzer to declare a state disaster emergency yesterday.

The New York National Guard has assisted local communities during past winter storms, Goldenberg pointed out. National Guard help was called upon during previous storms in the city of Buffalo, N.Y., he recalled, and during the ice storm that struck the northern part of the state in 1998.

"Snow emergencies are not a new occurrence in the state of New York," Goldenberg said, noting the Guard has units located across the state that provide manpower, engineering and aviation assets.

However, the New York Guard hasn't been called upon by state authorities to provide storm-related assistance at this time, Goldenberg said.

"We're conducting all the necessary planning and preparations to lean forward to provide those resources if called upon," Goldenberg said.

Oswego County's director of emergency management, Patricia Egan, said today that she "was comforted" the National Guard is making ready to respond, if needed. However, she said, the Guard's assistance isn't required at this point.

But, "we always want to leave those doors open," Egan pointed out. The storm is expected to last through the weekend, she said, noting as much as 10 feet of snow has already fallen in some areas. Much of the precipitation in upstate New York is "lake effect" snow from Lake Ontario, Egan said. Cold artic air meeting warmer air over unfrozen lakes produces that kind of snow.

Oswego County emergency management officials conducted a storm-response assessment yesterday, Egan said. Plans have been made to flow additional police and firefighters into hard-hit areas, she said, as well as having prisoners from state corrections facilities assist in removing snow from blocked streets and roads.

Egan wasn't sure how much more snow the storm would produce over the weekend.

"It depends on Lake Ontario," she said.

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