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Virginia National Guard mobilizing for winter storm assistance

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Posted at 9:36 AM, Jan 21, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-21 09:36:42-05

Sandston, Va. – The Virginia National Guard has been authorized to bring up to 500 Soldiers, Airmen and members of the Virginia Defense Force onto state active duty for possible assistance with the response to the upcoming winter storm expected to hit the state through the weekend.

The process to notify personnel to report for duty has began and they are scheduled to be in place by early Thursday evening.

They plan to stage personnel at readiness centers along the I-81 corridor between Lexington and Winchester, along the Route 29 corridor from Warrenton to Danville, as well as in the areas near Richmond, Fredericksburg and Gate City in order to be ready to respond if needed.

Potential missions for the Virginia Guard and Virginia Defense Force include transportation through heavy snow, downed tree removal, debris reduction and distribution of food, water and other supplies, said Col. Thomas L. Morgan, III, director of joint operations for the Virginia Guard.

“In order to be able to respond rapidly when needed, we will get our personnel in place at key locations before the severe weather hits,” Morgan said.

The Virginia National Guard receives their missions through the Virginia Department of Emergency Management to assist the Virginia State Police, the Virginia Department of Transportation and other state and local emergency response organizations and is not able to respond to direct support requests from the public, Morgan said.

The Virginia National Guard last went on state active duty for response operations caused by heavy snow, ice and flooding in late February and early March 2015. Over an almost three-week period, more than 330 Soldiers staged at locations across the commonwealth to assist local law enforcement and emergency response organizations with delivering food, water, medicine and other supplies, evacuating citizens for safety and medical assistance and removing snow berms limiting road access with engineer equipment. Virginia National Guard aviators also conducted an aerial resupply mission to deliver supplies to an iced-in Tangier Island.

Since 2001, the Virginia National Guard has called up more than 8,500 personnel for state active duty to support state and local emergency response organizations as part of a coordinated state-wide response, as well as mission in Louisiana, Mississippi, West Virginia, New York and Vermont.