Virginia Guard personnel preparing for possible post-storm recovery operations

Soldiers from the Virginia National Guard's Fredericksburg-based 116th Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, conduct pre-operation maintenance checks on chains saws and vehicles as they prepare for possible post-severe storm recovery operations June 30 in Fredericksburg. (Photo by Cotton Puryear, Virginia Guard Public Affairs)

SANDSTON, Va. — The Virginia National Guard is staging personnel in Fredericksburg and Lexington June 30 to be prepared for possible post-storm recovery operations after a series of severe storms struck Virginia June 29. The Virginia Guard has been authorized to bring up to 300 personnel on state active duty and began staging approximately 110 personnel at the readiness center in Fredericksburg and 30 personnel at the readiness center in Lexington to be prepared for possible missions starting the morning of July 1. Additional personnel have been alerted for possible duty and will be held in reserve for possible future missions.

Governor Bob McDonnell declared a state of emergency Saturday afternoon in response to severe weather that affected the Commonwealth Friday night. The declaration authorizes state agencies to assist local governments in responding to the storm’s impact and forecasted extreme temperatures and authorizes the Guard to begin staging personnel and equipment to be able to rapidly respond when needed. Possible missions for the Guard include light debris removal, commodity transport, security and health and welfare checks.

“The widespread power outage caused by last night’s storms, combined with forecasted triple-digit high temperatures for the next several days, have created a dangerous situation for many Virginians,” said McDonnell. “It will take several days to restore all power so Virginians should plan accordingly. This is not a one-day situation; it is a multi-day challenge. In this difficult situation we must all work together to help one another.”

Friday night’s thunderstorms caused the broadest non-hurricane related power outage in Virginia history. In addition, Saturday’s forecast calls for the possibility of additional thunderstorms, with the potential for the storms to become severe. As temperatures continue to reach the triple-digits in the days ahead the governor is calling for all Virginians to help one another as power outages could last for a number of days.

“We are working closely with the Virginia Department of Emergency Management and other state emergency response organizations to determine where the capabilities of the Virginia National Guard can best be put to use,” said Col. Gerald T. Catrett, director of joint operations for the Virginia Guard. “It is critical for us to have personnel in place and ready to respond, so we are staging personnel and equipment in a central location so we can rapidly respond when called.”

Catrett said the forces staging in Fredericksburg will be able to quickly deploy throughout the region to provide assistance to local emergency response organizations as needed. The forces staging in Lexington will be able to quickly deploy throughout the I-81 corridor. The Virginia Guard has not received any specific mission requests, but the Soldiers staging in Fredericksburg will be trained and equipment to conduct a variety of different missions.

The Virginia National Guard receives their missions through the Virginia Department of Emergency Management to assist state and local emergency response organizations and is not able to respond to direct support requests from the public, Catrett said. “If the severe weather creates any conditions where people need assistance, they should request assistance through their local dispatcher or 911 service, not directly to the Virginia Guard. When appropriate, the request for assistance will be forwarded to us for action,” he said.

Virginia Guard personnel preparing for possible post-storm recovery operations

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