Missouri Army National Guard troops have been deployed to Newton County to help with winter emergency efforts.


Missouri Army National Guard troops have been deployed to Newton County to help with winter emergency efforts.

Four Humvees — or High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicles — assigned to the Pierce City-based 276th Company/203rd Engineer Battalion rolled up to the Newton County Emergency Management Center, located at the former Missouri National Guard Armory on the corner of Brook and Jefferson streets, mid-Tuesday afternoon.

“They are ready to carry out their mission,” said unit public affairs representative Ann Keyes.

That mission, as confirmed by unit Staff Sgt. Jason Ites, is to support emergency management efforts in Newton County.

Gary Roark, county emergency management director, said the Humvees are primarily needed to drive ahead of emergency vehicles on their way to calls and clear a path. Although snow chains are being utilized, Roark said the ambulances in particular are still having trouble making it down the roads.

“There is just so much snow throughout the county, and the drifts are so high, it’s hard to tell where the road even is,” Roark said.

He said the No. 2 priority will be to look for and check on stranded motorists who may have slid off the road and to respond to assist calls.

Ites said he expects the Humvees will remain in the area for 24 to 72 hours.

“It could be longer and it could be shorter —  it all just depends on the weather,” he said.

Ites, who hails from Lake of the Ozarks, said his company was deployed on a similar mission four years ago, when it helped out in the Springfield area during the 2007 ice storm. That mission lasted two weeks. Ites said he’s glad that probably won’t be the case this time around, if weather forecasts prove correct.

“We enjoy our job, but you’ve got to draw the line somewhere!” he joked.

Meanwhile, Roark described the overall situation in Newton County as “really frustrating” in that emergency vehicles haven’t been able to respond like they need to.

“There isn’t a whole lot we can do right now,” Roark said. “The trouble is, people keep trying to get out in their vehicles and what they need to do is just stay home.”