By STEVE MARSHALL
National Guard Bureau
Areas in the South and Middle Atlantic pummeled by a brutal winter storm last week got a break Friday, as skies were sunny and the storm continued its trek toward New England.
Hundreds of thousands of residents remained without power in affected areas and the storm was blamed in more than 21 deaths, including two people who died after being struck by snowplows.
About 2,850 Soldiers and Airmen were on duty in nine states and the District of Columbia, according to figures from the National Guard Bureau.
The states: Connecticut, Georgia, Maryland, North Carolina, New York, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia.
Duties included assisting stranded motorists, pulling semi-trailers out of ditches with heavy-duty wreckers, transporting law enforcement and firefighting personnel—and just being there in case local authorities needed a boost.
In hard-hit Georgia, the ice storm left many residents of Augusta without power and heat. Several vehicles were stuck in ditches throughout the city, and Guardsmen used their tactical vehicles to pull the cars out. A couple that lived near the Augusta armory was provided shelter, warmth and a hot meal by an 878th Engineer Battalion Soldier who had only recently returned from Afghanistan.
“I just want to tell the Georgia Guard ‘thank you,’” said Augusta resident Paige McDaniels after members of the 165th Air Support Squad-ron transported her and her three grandchildren to a local church that provided shelter to families in need. “The Guard did an awesome job; I appreciate it.”
Army National Guard members of the Cumming, Ga.-based 560th Battlefield Surveillance Brigade were in their second day of icy patrols during the storm when two of them completed a special mission.
Staff Sgt. Timothy Bellinger, a Cumming resident, had been with the 560th BFSB for just two months when he and Spc. Derek Owens found themselves in a Humvee traveling the icy streets of his hometown in north Georgia.
After a morning spent conducting route reconnaissance and assisting stranded motorists, Bellinger’s vehicle was directed to Northside Hospital to transport patients who could not travel home on the icy roads.
Hospital staff asked Bellinger and Owens if they could help an 83-year old woman get home. The Georgia Guardsmen immediately agreed.
“She asked me if she could drive,” said Bellinger. “I said, ‘well ma’am, maybe not this time.’” Bellinger reported that his smiling passenger appeared to enjoy the ride.
“She said it was pretty cool,” Bellinger said.