Va. National Guard personnel assist flood response operations in Alleghany and Botetourt counties

Virginia National Guard Soldiers assigned to the Staunton-based 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team conduct damage assessments in Alleghany County to assist local emergency services organizations with flood response operations June 24, 2016.  (Photo by Cotton Puryear, Virginia National Guard Public Affairs)

Virginia National Guard Soldiers assigned to the Staunton-based 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team conduct damage assessments in Alleghany County to assist local emergency services organizations with flood response operations June 24, 2016. (Photo by Cotton Puryear, Virginia National Guard Public Affairs)

SANDSTON, Va. — The Virginia National Guard activated 20 Soldiers with Humvees and light/medium tactical trucks to assist with flood response operations in Alleghany and Botetourt counties June 24, 2016, after the Governor of Virginia declared a state of emergency the night before. Soldiers from the Staunton-based 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team quickly responded and were on location and ready for duty within 12 hours of the start of alert notifications.

“I am incredibly proud of how quickly our Soldiers were able to respond to the request for assistance from the Virginia Department of Emergency Management,” said Maj. Gen. Timothy P. Williams, the Adjutant General of Virginia. “Short notice mobilizations like these are not easy, but our leaders and Soldiers know how important it is that we provide the appropriate capabilities when requested. We owe a special thanks to employers and families of our Soldiers, because without their support, they couldn’t do the missions we ask them to do.”

While the damage caused by flooding was significant in the two counties and was a tremendous impact to the residents, the Guard was not needed to conduct any high water transportation missions. Using their Humvees and light/medium tactical trucks, Soldiers travelled along routes provided them by local emergency managers to conduct damage assessments. Using mobile phones and maps, they were able to identify problem areas so county officials could allocate support resources as needed.

The Soldiers were released from duty late in the afternoon on June 24.

Governor Terry McAuliffe declared a state of emergency June 23 in response to record flooding expected along the Jackson River. The declaration enabled public safety agencies including the Virginia National Guard, Virginia State Police and the Virginia Department of Emergency Management to begin planning for appropriate resources needed to assist.

The Virginia National Guard receives their missions through the Virginia Department of Emergency Management to assist the Virginia State Police and other state and local emergency response organizations. When localities need assistance, they contact VDEM, and VDEM then determines what emergency services are best suited for the situation. When appropriate, the Guard is dispatched to assist.

The Virginia National Guard last served on state active duty in February 2016 when more than 60 Soldiers assisted with cleanup efforts in areas of Virginia hardest hit by severe weather. Soldiers with chain saws organized in debris reduction teams helped clear fallen trees and other debris in Essex, Westmoreland, Sussex, Patrick and Appomattox Counties. Virginia Army National Guard air crews flew two rotary wing aviation missions to transport emergency managers on an aerial visual assessment and also captured images for damage estimates.