Va. National Guard to stage for possible snow response operations in Hampton Roads area

SANDSTON, Va. — The Virginia National Guard plans to stage approximately 200 Soldiers in the Hampton Roads area with Humvees, light/medium tactical trucks and chain saws Jan. 6, 2017, to be ready to assist with possible response operations as heavy snow is forecast in the region. The Soldiers and vehicles are scheduled to be in place Friday evening and ready to assist local law enforcement and emergency service organizations Saturday morning as part of the state’s multi-agency response.

According to a news release, Governor Terry McAuliffe declared a state of emergency Friday afternoon and urged residents of the commonwealth to prepare for impacts from a winter storm system, which potentially could result in significant snow accumulation, hazardous road conditions and high winds. This order authorizes state agencies to assist local governments in responding to this major winter storm that is expected to impact the commonwealth through the weekend.

“We are strongly encouraging everyone in Virginia to prepare for the possibility of snowfall, especially in Southeast Virginia, where forecasts predict accumulations could exceed 12 inches, as well as dangerous road conditions, power outages, and high winds,” said Governor McAuliffe. “I have been briefed by the National Weather Service and my emergency team, who are tracking this storm and following the potential impacts it could have across much of the state. I urge Virginians to limit travel as the severe weather arrives and evacuate if recommended by officials. We hope this storm passes quickly through our commonwealth, but our top priority must be to ensure the safety of our citizens and their families.”

In declaring a state of emergency, the governor authorizes state agencies to identify and position resources for quick response anywhere they are needed in Virginia.

Read the full emergency declaration news release at http://go.usa.gov/x9BVn.

“We anticipate that localities in the Hampton Roads will need high mobility transport and debris reduction capabilities, and the Virginia Department of Emergency Management requested that we stage personnel with vehicles and chain saws in order to rapidly respond if needed,” said Brig. Gen. Paul F. Griffin, director of the joint staff for the Virginia National Guard. “It is important for us to stage personnel and equipment before the severe weather hits, so we are moving them into place Friday evening to be ready first thing Saturday morning.”

Expected missions for the Guard include using Humvees and light/medium tactical trucks to provide transportation for first responders through deep snow or help evacuate citizens in need of shelter, Griffin said. Soldiers will also be organized into debris reduction teams with chain saws to help clear roads if needed.

During domestic operations, the Virginia National Guard receives missions through the Virginia Department of Emergency Management to assist the Virginia State Police and other state and local emergency service organizations and is not able to respond to direct support requests from the public, Griffin said.

“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 Oct. 9-10, 2016, when more than 160 Soldiers assisted with the multi-agency state response to Hurricane Matthew in the Hampton Roads area. Soldiers driving Humvees and light/medium tactical trucks provided high water transportation and were also helped clear debris and open roads blocked by fallen trees.

About the Virginia National Guard:

The Virginia National Guard is a unique dual-status force with a federal mission to provide an combat reserve to fight our nation’s wars and a state mission to provide a response force that answers the call of the Governor to defend the commonwealth.

Nearly 1,500 Soldiers and Airmen served on federal active duty in 2016, and Virginia Guard units conducted a wide variety of missions including mission command, military-to-military partnership building, security and rotary wing flight operations and maintenance. Nearly 850 personnel are still serving on federal active duty in the Middle East, and they join the nearly 15,000 Soldiers and Airmen who have mobilized for homeland security missions, combat operations and peacekeeping and stabilization missions since September 11, 2001.

More than 900 Va. Guard personnel served on state active duty in 2016 in response to severe weather events as part of the state’s multi-agency team. Soldiers transported first responders through heavy snow and high water, helped get citizens to safety and used chain saws to help clear debris and open roads after tornadoes and hurricanes. Soldiers, Airmen and Virginia Defense Force troopers also assisted with mission command, logistics and public information support.

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