Va. Guard personnel staged and ready for possible flood response operations

A Virginia National Guard Airmen assigned to the Virginia Beach-based 203rd RED HORSE Squadron serving on state active duty prepares for possible flood response operations Oct. 2, 2015, at Camp Pendleton in Virginia Beach, Va. (Photo by Capt. Craig Carper, 192nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs)

A Virginia National Guard Airmen assigned to the Virginia Beach-based 203rd RED HORSE Squadron serving on state active duty prepares for possible flood response operations Oct. 2, 2015, at Camp Pendleton in Virginia Beach, Va. (Photo by Capt. Craig Carper, 192nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs)

SANDSTON, Va. — The Virginia National Guard has more than 550 Soldiers and Airmen staged and ready at facilities in the areas of Hampton Roads, Central Virginia, Shenandoah Valley and Southwest Virginia as of Friday evening, Oct. 2, 2015.

Staging personnel and equipment in advance of the severe weather helps make sure the Guard can rapidly respond when needed, explained Lt. Col. Doug Gagnon, Virginia National Guard deputy director of joint operations.

Governor Terry McAuliffe authorized state active duty for up to 800 personnel, and additional Soldiers and Airmen could be quickly brought on duty if needed to support response operations.

Potential missions for the Virginia Guard include using Humvees and light and medium tactical trucks for high water transport as well as engineers with chain saws, trucks and heavy engineer equipment for debris reduction and downed tree removal, Gagnon said.

McAuliffe declared a state of emergency throughout Virginia Sept. 30 to authorize public safety officials to respond to flooding events in communities across the state and to prepare for more extreme weather throughout the rest of the week.

Virginia Army National Guard units from the 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team based in Charlottesville,  Danville, Fredericksburg, Hampton and Portsmouth and other locations provided Soldiers and equipment as well Soldiers from the 1030th Transportation Battalion, 329th Regional Support Group and 276th Engineer Battalion, 91st Troop Command staging in the Southwest Virginia area. Airmen from the Virginia Air National Guard’s 203rd RED HORSE Squadron, 192nd Fighter Wing are also on standby at Camp Pendleton in Virginia Beach, and Airmen from the 200th Weather Flight are providing weather forecasting support.

Additional 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.

Soldiers from the Fort Belvoir-based 29th Infantry Division and members of the Virginia Defense Force also provided assistance with operations planning at the VEOC.