Va. National Guard staged and ready for possible severe weather response operations in Hampton Roads, Eastern Shore areas

A Virginia National Guard Soldier assigned to the Norfolk-based 1st Battalion, 111th Field Artillery Regiment, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team conducts pre-mission maintenance checks on a Humvee Sept. 3, 2016, in Norfolk, Virginia. (Photo by Cotton Puryear, Virginia National Guard Public Affairs)

A Virginia National Guard Soldier assigned to the Norfolk-based 1st Battalion, 111th Field Artillery Regiment, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team conducts pre-mission maintenance checks on a Humvee Sept. 3, 2016, in Norfolk, Virginia. (Photo by Cotton Puryear, Virginia National Guard Public Affairs)

SANDSTON, Va. — The Virginia National Guard has more than 270 Soldiers staged and ready for possible severe weather response operations Sept. 3, 2016, in the Hampton Roads and Eastern Shore areas. As part of the state’s multi-agency response, the Guard has Soldiers with Humvees, light/medium tactical trucks and chain saws ready to assist with high water transport and debris reduction if needed.

Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe declared a state of emergency Sept. 2, 2016, and authorized the Guard to bring up 400 personnel on state active duty. More Soldiers could be brought on duty if needed.

“Once again the Virginia National Guard has demonstrated why they are such an important part of our state emergency response team,” said Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security Brian Moran. “Guard leaders worked with the Virginia Department of Emergency Management to develop a plan to deploy critical capabilities to key regions that could be impacted by the severe weather. Members of the Guard are in place Saturday morning and ready to assist the Virginia State Police, local law enforcement and emergency services to keep our citizens safe.”

Soldiers assigned to the Virginia Beach-based 329th Regional Support Group and the Staunton-based 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team are located at multiple readiness centers in the Hampton Roads and Eastern Shore areas of Virginia. Expected missions for the Guard include using Humvees and light/medium tactical trucks to provide transportation through high water. The 4×4 light medium tactical vehicle, or LMTV, has a 2.5-ton capacity and the 6×6 medium tactical vehicle, or MTV, has a 5-ton capacity. Soldiers will also be organized into debris reduction teams with chain saws. Virginia Defense Force troopers are also deployed alongside the Soldiers to provide incident management assistance and communications support.

Additional Soldiers, Airmen and Virginia Defense Force personnel are on duty in Sandston, Richmond and Fort Pickett to provide mission command, logistical support and public information support for the Guard’s operations.

“I couldn’t be more proud of how quickly and safely our personnel responded to the call of duty,” said Maj. Gen. Timothy P. Williams, the Adjutant General of Virginia. “This severe weather has impacted everyone’s holiday weekend, but our Soldiers, Airmen and Virginia Defense Force troopers left their jobs and their loved ones to muster in areas of the state threatened by heavy rains and high winds. We owe a special thanks to their families and employers for their continued support that is so critical to our ability to conduct the mission.”

During domestic operations, 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 and is not able to respond to direct support requests from the public, explained Brig. Gen. Paul F. Griffin, director of the joint staff for the Virginia National Guard..

“We ask that if anyone needs assistance because of the severe weather, that they call 911 or their local dispatcher and do not contact the Virginia National Guard directly,” Griffin said. “If you let them know you need help, they will determine what emergency services are best suited to assist you. They will contact us if it appropriate for us to take action.”

The Virginia National Guard last served on state active duty in June 2016 when 20 Soldiers with Humvees and light/medium tactical trucks assisted with flood response operations in Alleghany and Botetourt counties. 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.

In February 2016, 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.