Va. National Guard staging for possible snow response operations across Northern Virginia

SANDSTON, Va. — The Virginia National Guard has been authorized to bring up to 200 personnel on state active duty March 13, 2017, to assist with the state’s multi-agency response to possible heavy snow. They will begin staging at key locations across Northern Virginia with about 50 vehicles early Monday night to be ready for duty overnight and into Tuesday 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 as well as providing debris reduction teams with chain saws to help clear roads if needed.

Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe declared a state of emergency and authorized state agencies to assist local governments as they prepare and respond to the coming winter weather over the next 24 hours. In a news release, he urged Virginians to prepare for this major winter storm which could dump up to a foot or more of snow in northern regions of the Commonwealth.

“Virginians may have enjoyed milder temperatures for the past several weeks, but the forecast is calling for winter weather to return to the Commonwealth this week with what could be a major winter storm for northern portions of the Commonwealth,” said McAuliffe. “With this forecast in mind, all Virginians should take the necessary precautions now to ensure they are prepared for travel disruptions and possible power outages during a cold weather period.”

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.

“We anticipate that localities across Northern Virginia will need high mobility transport capabilities, and the Virginia Department of Emergency Management requested we stage resources in those areas in order to rapidly respond if needed,” said Col. Thomas L. Morgan, III, Virginia National Guard director of joint operations. “The key to a rapid response is getting our people and equipment in place before the snow hits, so we are moving people Monday night and plan to be ready to support localities after midnight 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, Morgan said.

“If you are in a dangerous situation and need assistance, please contact your local dispatcher or call 911,” Morgan explained. “If you let them know you need help, they will determine the most effective emergency services response for your situation. They will contact the Guard if it is appropriate for us to respond, and we will follow up as quickly as possible.”

The Virginia National Guard last served on state active duty Jan. 7-9, 2017, when nearly 200 personnel were on duty in the Hampton Roads area with less than 12 hours notification. Soldiers were staged and ready the morning of Jan. 7, and their assistance included recovering a fire truck in Newport News and helping Virginia State Police clear abandoned vehicles in Accomack County.

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 the last 18 months 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 members also assisted with mission command, logistics and public information support.

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