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Kentucky Air Guard troops deploy to Hardinsburg for storm-relief mission

Senior Master Sgt. Wade Zinsmeister prepares Kentucky Air National Guard members to deploy to Hardinsburg, Ky.,  for a storm-relief mission.  The Kentucky Air National Guard deployed 173 Airmen to Hardinsburg this morning as part of statewide efforts to assist more than 500,000 Kentuckians who have been left without power following last week’s devastating winter storms.  (Photo by Tech. Sgt. Dennis Flora / KyANG)

Senior Master Sgt. Wade Zinsmeister prepares Kentucky Air National Guard members to deploy to Hardinsburg, Ky., for a storm-relief mission. The Kentucky Air National Guard deployed 173 Airmen to Hardinsburg this morning as part of statewide efforts to assist more than 500,000 Kentuckians who have been left without power following last week’s devastating winter storms. (Photo by Tech. Sgt. Dennis Flora / KyANG)

Kentucky Air National Guardsmen form a convoy to deploy to Hardinsburg, Ky., for storm-relief mission.  The Kentucky Air National Guard deployed 173 Airmen to Hardinsburg this morning as part of statewide efforts to assist more than 500,000 Kentuckians who have been left without power following last week’s devastating winter storms.  (Photo by Tech. Sgt. Dennis Flora / KyANG)

Kentucky Air National Guardsmen form a convoy to deploy to Hardinsburg, Ky., for storm-relief mission. The Kentucky Air National Guard deployed 173 Airmen to Hardinsburg this morning as part of statewide efforts to assist more than 500,000 Kentuckians who have been left without power following last week’s devastating winter storms. (Photo by Tech. Sgt. Dennis Flora / KyANG)

KENTUCKY AIR NATIONAL GUARD, LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- The Kentucky Air National Guard deployed 173 Airmen to Hardinsburg, Ky., this morning as part of statewide efforts to assist more than 500,000 Kentuckians who have been left without power following last week's devastating winter storms.

The Airmen left the Air Guard base here at 6:30 a.m. in a 20-vehicle convoy. Upon arrival in Hardinsburg, they will establish a base of operations and begin conducting door-to-door "wellness checks" of area residents in conjunction with local emergency management agencies, fire departments, rescue squads and law enforcement personnel.

The troops have been instructed to attach green tape to the homes in which residents have sufficient food, power, water or communications. Red tape will be used to indicate homes where shortfalls exist. Houses marked with red tape will be reported to local emergency operations centers and will be placed on a list to be resurveyed for on-going support based on county capabilities.

An additional 127 Kentucky Air National Guardsmen, aircrews and C-130 aircraft will remain on standby at the Louisville base today to render assistance as needed.

The 300-Airman callup is part of an unprecedented activation ordered yesterday by Gov. Steve Beshear, who also directed the activation of all available Kentucky Army National Guard soldiers.

"This is the largest state callup of Kentucky National Guard forces in the history of the Commonwealth," said Gov. Beshear. "It represents the strongest possible effort to relieve human suffering and ensure the safety and well-being of our citizens."

The activation places an additional 3,000 Soldiers and Airmen into the effort to address the needs of the people of the Commonwealth. Prior to yesterday, the Kentucky National Guard had 1,600 Citizen-Soldiers supporting the relief effort. The total number of troops on duty is now 4,600.

This activation exceeds troop levels for the 1997 flood (1,600 troops) and Kentucky's support of recovery efforts following Hurricane Katrina in 2005 (approximately 2,000).