Virginia Guard personnel staged and ready for winter storm response operations

A Virginia National Guard Soldier assigned to the Fredericksburg-based 116th Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team prepares a Humvee for possible winter storm operations duty Feb. 16, 2015, in Fredericksburg, Va. (Photo by Capt. Andrew J. Czaplicki, Virginia National Guard Public Affairs)

A Virginia National Guard Soldier assigned to the Fredericksburg-based 116th Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team prepares a Humvee for possible winter storm operations duty Feb. 16, 2015, in Fredericksburg, Va. (Photo by Capt. Andrew J. Czaplicki, Virginia National Guard Public Affairs)

SANDSTON, Va. — More than 125 Virginia National Guard personnel are staged and ready for possible winter storm response operations at locations across the commonwealth Tuesday morning, Feb. 17, 2015. After Governor Terry McAuliffe declared a state of emergency Monday afternoon, Guard personnel begin moving into place and were staged and ready late Monday evening in order to support Virginia State Police, Virginia Department of Transportation or other state and local emergency response organizations.

The majority of the personnel are Soldiers from various units of the 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, and there are Soldiers, Airmen and members of the Virginia Defense Force located at the Virginia National Guard’s Joint Operations Center in Sandston and Logistics Operations Center at Fort Pickett. Soldiers are staged at readiness centers along the I-81 corridor from Winchester to Christiansburg as well as in Leesburg, Fredericksburg, Bowling Green, Danville, South Boston and Farmville.

The Guard is authorized to bring up to 300 personnel on state active duty and could alert more personnel today if needed.

Soldiers are organized into high mobility and debris reduction teams driving in Humvees and equipped with chain saws. Potential missions for the Virginia Guard include assisting stranded motorists, transportation of healthcare professionals and the seriously ill to medical treatment facilities, transportation of personnel or equipment to potential heating or sheltering locations and downed tree removal, said Col. James Zollar, director of joint operations for the Virginia Guard.

The Virginia National Guard receives its 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, Zollar said.

“If you need assistance because of the winter storm, please call 911 or your local dispatcher and let them know you need help and do not contact the Virginia National Guard directly,” he said. “They will determine what emergency services are best suited to assist you, and they will contact us if it appropriate for us to take action.”

Virginia Guard personnel last served on state active duty for hazardous weather response in February 2014. Operating from readiness centers along the I-81, I-95, Route 29 and Route 460 corridors, nearly 300 Soldiers, Airmen and members of the Virginia Defense Force supported winter storm response efforts beginning Feb. 12. 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.

View and download high resolution photos on Flickr:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/vaguardpao/sets/72157650852710712/

Governor McAuliffe Declares State of Emergency for Winter Storm Response – Feb. 16, 2015
https://governor.virginia.gov/newsroom/newsarticle?articleId=7739

Va. Guard wraps up snow response operations – Feb. 16, 2014
http://vaguard.dodlive.mil/2014/02/16/5011/