Virginia National Guard preparing to respond after Hurricane Florence makes landfall

Posted at 10:56 PM, Sep 12, 2018
and last updated 2018-09-13 15:36:07-04

PORTSMOUTH, Va. - The Virginia National Guard is gearing up to respond where they are needed over the next few days. Three teams are conducting missions with local responders as they prepare for what's ahead.

"We're playing it by ear; wherever we are needed is where we're going to go. Whatever we have to do to make sure our missions are accomplished and that's what's going to happen," said LaSheena Harden.

The soldiers started preparing Tuesday at the base in Portsmouth. On Wednesday, John Harrison, a soldier, said they spent the day getting all the vehicles ready, generators set, and stocking up on gas, water and food. By Thursday, more than 100 soldiers will be ready. Their main mission will be to help first responders.

"They have enough on their plate. Our soldiers are there ready. For many of them, this is why they joined the National Guard," said Master Sgt. A. J. Coyne.

That rings true for Christopher Wesolowski. He said he remembered being very young when two to three feet of floodwaters were outside after a storm.

"We saw first responders come in and guardsmen as well and troops. They helped out our community - trees that had fallen in the path, anything and everything in general. I looked up to them and I was proud of them and it's nice to see I could help out the community that helped me out before," said Wesolowski.

The soldiers also unloaded chainsaws, which they will use to cut up and remove downed trees blocking roadways. They predict they'll also be doing a lot of high-water transporting.

"We have big trucks; you'll see them driving around. That's so important since they [first responders] need to get places. Occasionally, it's to transport people who might need medical attention," said Master Sgt. Coyne.

At the base, the soldiers set up a big tent, which they will use to rest, recharge and get ready to respond when they are needed next.

Click here to track Florence

Click here for more hurricane resources