National Guard mobilizes for tornado cleanup on Cape Cod

  • Published
  • By TSgt. Thomas Swanson
  • 102nd Intelligence Wing

Over two dozen Airmen from the 102nd Civil Engineer Squadron from Otis Air National Guard Base, Mass., mobilized to assist local communities in the wake of three F1 tornadoes that touched down on Cape Cod on July 23, 2019.

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker authorized 500 Army and Air National Guardsmen from around the Commonwealth to support the towns affected by the storms in order to return the region to business as usual as quickly as possible.

The citizen Soldiers and Airmen worked clearing fallen trees and debris from roads in areas with the most severe damage. This enabled utility workers to access streets with power outages, and allowed emergency responders to reach every home and business if needed.

“We’re here to help people get back to normal, clearing the roads and making things safer,” said 1st Lt. William Peterson, a flight chief with the 102nd Civil Engineer Squadron.

“One of the things that makes the National Guard unique from active duty is that we also have a domestic operations component. We deal with stateside natural disasters and recovery relief, and this is a great example of that.”

The Adjutant General of the Massachusetts National Guard, Maj. Gen. Gary Keefe explained, “The National Guard is the only service component that has a dual mission tasking. Our federal mission is to train, resource and deploy around the world to fight our nation’s wars, and we’re very good at that. The National Guard is also the only service component that allows governors to utilize personnel, equipment and resources to preserve life and protect property within the states, specifically for us here in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.”

Additionally, Keefe said the Massachusetts National Guard provided housing and dining facilities for about 1,000 Eversource electricity utility workers on Joint Base Cape Cod who traveled from around the North East to help restore electricity to the region.

Referring to the Joint Task Force assigned to cleaning up the Cape, Keefe said, “They’ll be here until the job’s done.”