Va. National Guard alerted to stage in Winchester, Staunton, Gate City, Leesburg, Fredericksburg and Harrisonburg for snow or flood duty

SANDSTON, Va. —NewVaGuardLogo_2mar15 The Virginia National Guard has alerted approximately 70 Soldiers March 4, 2015, to stage and be ready for possible response operations due to heavy snow or flooding. Soldiers from the Staunton-based 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team will stage in Winchester, Staunton, Leesburg, Fredericksburg and Harrisonburg, and Soldiers from the Gate City-based 1030th Transportation Battalion will stage in Gate City. All forces are scheduled to be ready for duty by 8 a.m. March 5.

“The Virginia Department of Emergency Management requested that we stage forces in key locations in the Northern Virginia and Shenandoah Valley areas to assist local first responders if the expected snow reduces their abilities to travel and provide assistance to citizens,” explained Col. James Zollar, Virginia National Guard director of joint operations. “We will also be prepared to assist local authorities in the Southwest Virginia area in case melting snow causes flooding.”

Additional personnel will be on duty in Sandston, Richmond and Fort Pickett to provide mission command and logistical support for the operations.

Expected missions for the Guard in these locations include using Humvees and light/medium tactical vehicles to provide transportation to reach areas where heavy snow or high water has blocked roads. 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. The Guard will also have Soldiers equipped with chain saws to assist with tree removal and debris reduction.

The Virginia National Guard receives their missions through the Virginia Department of Emergency Management to assist the Virginia State Police, the Virginia Department of Transportation and other state and local emergency response organizations and is not able to respond to direct support requests from the public, Zollar said.

“If you need assistance because of the winter storm or flooding, please call 911 or your local dispatcher and let them know you need help and do not contact the Virginia National Guard directly,” he said. “They will determine what emergency services are best suited to assist you, and they will contact us if it appropriate for us to take action.”

Governor Terry McAuliffe declared a state of emergency Feb. 16 and authorized up to 300 Virginia National Guard personnel could be brought on state active duty for possible response operations, and more than 125 personnel were staged and ready at locations across the commonwealth by that evening.

The Virginia National Guard transitioned to routine operations March 1, 2015, after mobilizing more than 125 Soldiers to assist with snow recovery operations starting Feb. 22 at locations across the commonwealth. For seven days, Soldiers assisted local law enforcement and emergency response organizations in the Southwest Virginia area with delivering food, water, medicine and other supplies, evacuating citizens for safety and medical assistance and removing snow berms limiting road access with engineer equipment.

McAuliffe also authorized aviators from the Sandston-based 2nd Battalion, 224th Aviation Regiment to deliver food, mail and medical supplies Feb. 16 to residents of Tangier Island. The 1.2 square mile island, located in the Chesapeake Bay, had been unable to receive routine seaport deliveries due to icy conditions.

More info:
Va. Guard returns to routine operations after assisting with snow response