Virginia Guard personnel preparing for possible winter weather response operations


SANDSTON, Va. — The Virginia National Guard has been authorized to bring up to 300 Soldiers, Airmen and members of the Virginia Defense Force on state active duty for possible severe winter weather response operations. The Virginia Guard plans to stage personnel at readiness centers along the I-81 corridor and in the Central Virginia area along Route 29, I-64 and I-95 in order to be ready to support potential response missions. The alert process to notify personnel to report for duty has begun, and they are scheduled to be in place by late afternoon Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2014, and will be ready to respond if needed.

Governor Terry McAuliffe declared a state of emergency Feb. 11, an action that authorizes state agencies to be ready to assist local governments in responding to the major snow storm forecast to hit the Commonwealth starting tomorrow. 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 and allows the Virginia National Guard to begin alerting and staging forces.

“Now is the time for Virginia to get ready for this storm,” said Governor McAuliffe. “This state of emergency declaration will empower the Virginia Department of Emergency Management, the Department of Transportation, the Virginia National Guard, and our electric and cable utilities to prepare for a storm that is predicted to create power outages and significant travel challenges across the Commonwealth over the next few days.”

Potential missions for the Virginia Guard and Virginia Defense Force include assisting stranded motorists, transportation of healthcare professionals and the seriously ill to medical treatment facilities, transportation of personnel or equipment to potential heating or sheltering locations and downed tree removal, said Col. James Zollar, director of joint operations for the Virginia Guard.

“We need to get our personnel and equipped staged at key locations before the severe weather hits so we can rapidly respond when we are needed,” he said.

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, Zollar said. “If the hazardous weather creates any conditions where people need assistance, they should request assistance through their local dispatcher or 911 service, not directly to the Virginia National Guard. When appropriate, the request for assistance will be forwarded to us for action,” he said.

Virginia Guard personnel last served on state active duty in March 2013. More than 160 Virginia National Guard Soldiers from the 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team mobilized on state active duty March 6, 2013, in the Central Virginia, Northern Virginia and Shenandoah Valley areas of Virginia in direct support to the Virginia State Police and other state and local emergency response agencies. Before they were released March 7, Virginia Guard personnel assisted with debris reduction, rescuing motorists stranded in heavy snow, clearing a disabled vehicle and conducting incident awareness assessment patrols.

Governor Terry McAuliffe Declares State of Emergency As Winter Storm Approaches (Feb. 11, 2014)

Va. Guard supports snow response operations in Central Virginia, Northern Virginia and Shenandoah (March 7, 2013)