One Year After Tornadoes, Guardsmen Training for Future Needs

MONTGOMERY, AL (04/25/2012)(readMedia)-- Nearly one year ago, April 27, 2011, more than 60 tornadoes ripped across Alabama leaving a wake of destruction and taking the lives of about 250 people. Vast stretches of land were vacuumed up, broken into pieces and spit back out, sometimes counties away. Thousands were left without utilities, many without homes, hundreds were trapped in the rubble, and miles of roads were blocked to emergency vehicles.

"With storms continuing and damage assessments still coming in, we anticipate a significant increase in requests for Guard assistance. The Guard is ready to support these requests," said Alabama National Guard Deputy Director of Military Support, Lt. Col. Jim Hawkins, April 27, 2011, at the beginning of the response.

Lt. Col. Hawkins proved to be correct. Along with so many other agencies and individuals, the Alabama National Guard began an unprecedented response to the disaster. More than 2,900 Alabama Guardsmen were called to state active duty and assisted in search and rescue, emergency route clearance, power generation, traffic control, aviation support, search and recovery, food and water distribution, security, and more in what was one of the largest Alabama National Guard domestic response efforts in Alabama's history.

Providing defense support to civilian authorities is a core mission of the Alabama National Guard. Our Soldiers and Airman are highly trained, well equipped and ready to respond to assist our fellow citizens in Alabama in times of disaster.

"We are proud of what we accomplished last year to help the citizens of Alabama," said Maj. Gen. Perry G. Smith, the Alabama National Guard's top officer. "But, we can't live on accomplishments of the past, we must continue to train to face the next challenge."

Training for the future is exactly what the Alabama National Guard will be doing this weekend at its Joint Force Headquarters here as it conducts a hurricane season preparedness exercise to rehearse all hurricane response procedures at the joint staff and unit levels.

Any media interested in attending this rehearsal at 9:45 a.m., Saturday, April 28, please contact the Alabama National Guard Public Affairs Office at or 334-271-7244 no later than noon, Friday, April 27, 2012. The rehearsal will be conducted on an access-controlled facility; therefore media wishing to attend must respond with name of reporter, e-mail address and mobile phone number by the deadline in order to ensure access.