VIRGINIA BEACH, VA. -- The Virginia National Guard has approximately 200 personnel staged and ready Jan. 7, 2017, at guard readiness centers through the Hampton Roads area.
Some soldiers and vehicles are prepositioned at firehouses and other emergency services facilities in the region in order to quickly deploy if needed as part of the state's multi-agency response.
"I am incredibly proud of how quickly our forces were able to stage Friday night in order to be ready for possible missions Saturday morning, and most importantly they did it safely,” said Maj. Gen. Timothy P. Williams, the adjutant general of Virginia. “Our state and local partners count on us to provide the capabilities they need in order to help the citizens of the commonwealth when faced with hazardous weather situations, and once again our soldiers, airmen and Virginia Defense Force troopers have demonstrated we are able to rapidly respond when we are needed. Our forces are standing by to assist local first responders in keep our fellow Virginians safe."
Expected missions for the guard include using Humvees and light/medium tactical trucks to provide transportation for first responders through snow or help evacuate citizens in need of shelter. Soldiers are also organized into debris reduction teams with chain saws to help clear roads if needed.
Additional soldiers, airmen and Virginia Defense Force troopers are on duty in Sandston and Fort Pickett providing mission command, sustainment, incident management assistance and public information support.
Governor Terry McAuliffe declared a state of emergency Jan. 6, 2017, and urged residents of the commonwealth to prepare for impacts from a winter storm system, which potentially could result in significant snow accumulation, hazardous road conditions and high winds. This order authorizes state agencies to assist local governments in responding to this major winter storm that is expected to impact the commonwealth through the weekend.
During domestic operations, the Virginia National Guard receives missions through the Virginia Department of Emergency Management to assist the Virginia State Police and other state and local emergency service organizations and is not able to respond to direct support requests from the public, explained Brig. Gen. Paul Griffin, Virginia National Guard Director of the Joint Staff.
“We ask that if anyone needs assistance because of the severe weather that they call 911 or their local dispatcher and do not contact the Virginia National Guard directly,” Griffin said. "If you let them know you need help, they will determine what emergency services are best suited to assist you. They will contact us if it appropriate for us to take action.”
The Virginia National Guard last served on state active duty Oct. 9-10, 2016, when more than 160 Soldiers assisted with the multi-agency state response to Hurricane Matthew in the Hampton Roads area. Soldiers driving Humvees and light/medium tactical trucks provided high water transportation and were also helped clear debris and open roads blocked by fallen trees.
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