BINGHAMTON, N.Y. —
Two hundred New York National Guard soldiers and airmen were placed on state active duty yesterday after nearly seven inches of rain fell on parts of the state’s Finger Lakes region Aug. 14.
New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo ordered the guard response as the state declared a disaster area in 14 counties in the Finger Lakes area and counties in New York’s Southern Tier region, where heavy rains caused streams and lakes to rise. The declaration allows the state to move assets — including National Guard members — to assist local governments.
On Aug. 14, 30 airmen from the 174th Attack Wing, based at Hancock Field Air National Guard Base in Syracuse, were deployed to Ovid, New York, to assist local governments there in clearing debris. A priority was to clear roads and keep drainage ditches and culverts from clogging and overflowing.
The 204th Engineer Battalion in Binghamton mobilized 25 soldiers with high-axle vehicles for immediate storm response. The Susquehanna River flows past Binghamton, and the river’s water level was 4 feet over flood stage at one point before it subsided later on Aug. 14.
Yesterday, an additional 150 soldiers and vehicles were placed on duty in Auburn, Binghamton, Walton and Horseheads, New York. All elements were equipped with military vehicles capable of negotiating flooded areas. The soldiers came from additional companies of the 204th Engineer Battalion and the 102nd Military Police Battalion in Auburn.
The New York National Guard also placed an additional 50 members of the 369th Sustainment Brigade on standby at Camp Smith Training Area in the Hudson Valley near Peekskill, New York. The New York Army National Guard also has two UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters with hoist capability standing by at the Rochester International Airport Army Aviation Support Facility.
The Finger Lakes region of New York stretches through the middle of the state and includes 11 lakes, the longest of which is 38 miles long. The region is a major tourism destination and wine industry center.
In Pennsylvania, where National Guard assets have been mobilized for several days because of flooding, aerial rescues took place Aug. 14 in the Benton area north of Bloomsburg, where three helicopters with a group run by the National Guard and the state Fish and Boat Commission performed about 10 rescues, including people plucked from the roofs of their homes, according to the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency.