Kentucky National Guard assisting with tornado response

  • Published
  • By Spc. Harrison Moore,
  • 133rd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

MAYFIELD, KY. – More than 300 members of the Kentucky National Guard are helping respond in the aftermath of devastating tornadoes that swept through the commonwealth over the weekend, killing dozens of people.

Gov. Andy Beshear declared a state of emergency and said at least 70 people died in the “most devastating, most deadly tornado event in Kentucky’s history.”

Mayfield has been affected most severely.

The National Guard was searching for survivors in multiple counties.

“The National Guard is here to support in any way that we can, and we have worked alongside multiple fire departments and police departments,” said Spc. Jonah Crockett, from the 301st Chemical Battalion. “Everyone has been working together during this dark time.” 

Crockett is part of the Guard’s Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and High Yield Explosive Enhanced Response Force Package (CERFP) team working with the community of Mayfield for disaster relief.

The CERFP can provide a full spectrum of disaster response and recovery operations, from medical evacuations to explosive ordnance disposal.

The Guard provides military assistance and disaster relief, rescue and recovery capabilities as directed by the governor to help Mayfield and surrounding counties.

Guard resources deployed include special tactics pararescue, contingency response, critical care air transport teams, a fatality search and recovery team, and the CBRNE enhanced response force.

Tiffany Newcomb with the Salem Fire Department said first responders “started looking through fallen houses downtown” early Dec. 12 “and then moved over here to the candle factory to help with search and rescue.”

“The National Guard has brought dogs and rescue teams and they have jumped in and helped in any way they can,” Newcomb said. “Several Guard members are downtown as well, cutting trees and clearing roads, just doing what has to be done.”

Kentucky National Guard Sgt. Justin Sims, 438th Military Police Company, said: “We want to make sure everybody is being safe with all of the downed power lines and trees. Another job has just been getting people in and out of the area that are coming to help.

“Many of the roads are blocked off, and so MPs have helped secure the roads and let authorized personnel in so they can continue the mission,” said Sims.

“There are so many Fire Departments here from Lexington, Louisville, Owensboro, Hendersonville, Mayfield, Salem, and there are just so many volunteers I don’t want to leave anybody out,” said Newcomb. “But everyone has been working tirelessly to try and help this community.”

“The Guard has been working alongside Fire, police, and other emergency response teams and we are truly coming together to help Mayfield and this state during this unfortunate time,” said Sims.