Virginia National Guard Soldiers ready to respond to winter emergencies

Posted at 10:28 AM, Mar 03, 2014

The following is a press release from the Virginia National Guard

SANDSTON, Va. – More than 70 Virginia National Guard Soldiers are staged at readiness centers along the northern I-81 corridor, Leesburg and Fredericksburg, and they are ready to support state and local emergency response organizations March 3, 2014. An additional 20 Soldiers, Airmen and members of the Virginia Defense Force are on duty at the Joint Operations Center in Sandston, Logistics Operation Center at Fort Pickett and Virginia Emergency Operations Center in Richmond to provide mission command, administrative and sustainment support for units in the field.

Governor Terry McAuliffe declared a state of emergency that authorizes state agencies to identify and position resources for quick response anywhere they are needed in Virginia.

The Virginia Guard is authorized to bring up to 100 personnel on state active duty.

“This storm could bring difficult travel and widespread power outages for the next few days,” said Governor McAuliffe in a news release. “It is also going to be very cold with gusty winds across Virginia. Please postpone travel during the storm, charge up your mobile devices so you can stay in touch, and take time to check on your neighbors in case they need help.”

Potential missions for the Virginia Guard include assisting stranded motorists, downed tree removal and debris reduction and transportation of healthcare professionals and emergency services personnel, said Col. Paul Griffin, the chief of the joint staff for Virginia Guard.

“It is important for us to get our personnel and equipment staged at key locations before the weather gets bad,” he said. “We now have our Soldiers staged and ready to rapidly respond if they are needed.”

The Virginia National Guard receives their missions through the Virginia Department of Emergency Management to assist state and local emergency response organizations and is not able to respond to direct support requests from the public, Griffin said. “If people need assistance because of the severe winter weather, they should contact their local dispatcher or 911 service and ask for help, not make direct contact with the Virginia National Guard. When appropriate, the request for assistance will be forwarded to us for action,” he said.

Virginia Guard personnel last served on state active duty Feb. 12-13, 2014, after heavy snow created hazardous road conditions across the commonwealth. Operating from readiness centers along the I-81, I-95, Route 29 and Route 460 corridors, Soldiers working in coordination with the Virginia State Police conducted more than 40 missions assisting and transporting local fire, police and emergency medical services personnel and nearly 30 missions assisting stranded motorists and citizens as well as numerous route assessment patrols to determine road trafficability and provide situational awareness in their area of operations.