by Mike Ferguson
(St. Charles, MO) – The first severe storms of 2014 hit parts of Missouri on Thursday, providing a reminder of the preparations in place for disasters.
The recent storms were – thankfully – not as large or damaging as the ones that hit Joplin, St. Louis and Sedalia in recent years. Local emergency responders were able to handle the situations without calling in help from the state.
State officials and the National Guard are preparing year around for scenarios that include severe storms. Despite a multi-layered process used to deploy the Guard to disaster areas, that process is done quickly in emergencies.
On “Missouri Viewpoints”, National Guard Captain Wesley Dickman explains how a seemingly complicated process can be activated efficiently.
” Usually, those requests are being worked at multiple locations at the same time. When we know a request is being processed through SEMA (the State Emergency Management Agency), we go ahead and start getting clearance done at our level.
“We have several what we call con-ops, concept of the operations already designed for several disasters so we already know about what size of force we’re going to need for what type of disaster, what units are located where and how we can respond quickly.”
Ultimately, the Governor makes the decision to call the Guard in to help in a disaster area.
While helping in local disasters is not the primary job of the National Guard, it is among the most likely duties they will be called to do, so they train year around for those scenarios.
Even then, Dickman says, they remain in a supporting role when activated.
“We go to those communities and we assist where we’re needed. We don’t ever take charge of the scene.”
The Guard works closely with SEMA and with meteorologists around the state to anticipate weather-related emergencies that might result in a large-scale disaster.
While the Guard looks to the future and prepares, another project near Jefferson City looks to the past and preserves.
Construction of a 6,550 square foot building to house the Museum of Missouri Military History is underway and will be completed later this year. The museum currently resides in another building on the Ike Skelton Training Center but does not have enough room to display all the artifacts stored there now.
Museum Curator Charles Machon says those include items dating back prior to the Civil War.
Machon hopes the museum becomes a destination for more Missourians once the new building opens and what it offers for everyone whether they have military experience or not.
“[Visitors will] learn an appreciation for your military. To know the sacrifices that they went through and to just get a better understanding of it.”
On the web:
Missouri National Guard: www.MOGuard.com
Museum of Missouri Military History: http://www.moguard.com/moguard-museum-of-missouri-military-history.html
Veterans United: www.VU.com