The Army National Guard, the Air National Guard, and the U.S. Coast Guard can provide vital support during natural disasters. The Army National Guard was formed in 1636 by the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Currently it has 340,000 members. There are more than 1,800 National Guard units located in 2,700 communities across the United States. Members of the National Guard receive military training with the understanding that during wartime they can be mobilized. The Air National Guard was formed in 1947. The Coast Guard is made up of active duty, reserve, and civilian personnel and protects the coastal boundaries of the United States.
The National Guard is under the jurisdiction of the federal government during war time, but in peacetime the troops are under the jurisdiction of state governments. Each state maintains its own National Guard bureau that works with local authorities during emergency situations such as natural disasters. In its role as a state-run agency, the National Guard’ role is to mobilize where a crisis has occurred and use its training to help local authorities deal with the crisis situation. National Guard troops help reinforce dams and dikes threatened by floods, help contain forest fires, and offer emergency aid after hurricanes and tornadoes. The Coast Guard assists with ocean disasters. Guard members can fly helicopters and drive trucks that transport supplies, injured and sick people, and emergency materials.