Tuesday, January 29, 2019

The Georgia Guard Looks Back on Winter Storm Leon

This image showing road conditions on Georgia's interstates
was taken by Maj. Dan Miller  in the early morning hours of
Jan. 29. 2014. Georgia Guard Archives
by Maj. William Carraway
Historian, Georgia Army National Guard

On January 28, 2014, a major winter storm impacted the southeast United States dropping as much as two inches of snow across the region. The impact of Winter Storm Leon to north Georgia and the metro Atlanta counties was particularly severe. The cumulative effect of rapid snowfall accumulation coupled with a simultaneous exodus of metro commuters resulted in gridlocked roads choked with stranded motorists. Flights out of Hartsfield-Jackson airport were grounded and many local business and agencies were closed. In response, Governor Nation Deal declared a state of emergency and requested assistance from the Georgia National Guard.

Georgia Guardsmen responded throughout the impacted region within 90-minutes of the governor’s activation order. At the direction of the Georgia Emergency Management Agency, teams of national guardsmen mobilized in 50 high mobility multipurpose wheeled vehicles and cargo trucks to reach stranded motorists and deliver food, water and first aid supplies. Georgia National Guard UH-60 Black Hawk utility helicopters were also used for aerial resupply missions.

ATLANTA, Jan. 30, 2014  – Georgia Army National Guard Soldiers Sgt. Luke
Wilkins, a combat medic (left), and Sgt. Chastidy Guinyard, a unit career
counselor, both with the Marietta-based 248th Medical Company, ready fuel
containers to help stranded motorists who ran out of gas during Winter Storm Leon.
Ga. National Guard photo by Sgt. Michael Uribe
Across the state, Guardsmen opened the doors of their armories to provide shelter for motorists and staging areas for first responders. Working with the Georgia State Patrol, the Guardsmen assisted nearly 5,000 stranded motorists and evacuated nearly 100 school children from school buses.

Major General Tom Carden, Georgia’s Adjutant General, recalled the mobilization effort.

“The key to success was the ability to move the requisite personnel and equipment as quickly as possible to achieve the desired effect,” said Carden. “Assisting our fellow citizens is one of the most gratifying missions we can perform.”

Through January 31, the Georgia Guard distributed nearly 2,500 bottles of water and meals, more than 1,660 blankets and assisted first responders on nearly 100 emergency calls.

Since Winter Storm Leon, Georgia Guardsmen have responded in the wake of Winter Storm Pax and Hurricanes Matthew, Irma and, most recently, Michael. Five years to the date after Winter Storm Leon, the Georgia Guard prepared to respond in the wake of a winter storm advisory, but the resulting weather effects were far less severe than predicted.

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