Va. National Guard staged and ready for possible snow response operations in Hampton Roads

Virginia National Guard Soldiers assigned to the 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team prepare for possible winter storm response operations Jan. 3, 2018, in Norfolk, Virginia. Approximately 100 Soldiers are staged and ready at key locations in the Hampton Roads area as part of the state’s multi-agency response.  (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Master Sgt. A.J. Coyne)

SANDSTON, Va. — The Virginia National Guard has nearly 100 personnel staged and ready to assist with the state’s multi-agency response to possible heavy snow Jan. 3, 2018, at key locations in the Hampton Roads area. Expected missions include using Humvees and light/medium tactical trucks to provide transportation for first responders through deep snow as well as providing debris reduction teams with chain saws to help clear roads if needed.

“I am proud of how quickly and safely our personnel were able to rapidly respond and position troops and equipment so they are ready to respond if needed,” said Maj. Gen. Timothy P. Williams, the Adjutant General of Virginia. “The capabilities we provide are an important part of the commonwealth’s emergency response, and our partners at the state and local level count on us being there to assist. It is also important that we remember the magnificent support our troops receive from their families and employers and how critical that support is to mission success.”

Additional personnel are on duty in Richmond, Sandston and Fort Pickett providing mission command, sustainment and public information support.

Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe declared a state of emergency at Jan. 3 authorizing state agencies to assist local governments in responding to the significant winter storm that is expected to impact the Commonwealth over the next 24-48 hours. 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.

McAuliffe urged Virginians to prepare for this major winter storm, which could dump up to a foot of snow in portions of eastern Virginia.

“The bitter cold that continues to plague the Commonwealth will be joined by a potentially significant winter storm which will blast Hampton Roads, the Northern Neck, Eastern Shore and other areas of Eastern Virginia with snowfall and blizzard-like conditions in some communities.” said McAuliffe. “With this forecast in mind, all Virginians should take the necessary precautions now to ensure they are prepared for the travel disruptions, power outages and other threats to health and safety that could arise during this significant weather event.”

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, Williams said.

“If you are in a dangerous situation and need assistance, please contact your local dispatcher or call 911,” Williams 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.”

About the Virginia National Guard and Virginia Defense Force:

The Virginia National Guard is a unique dual-status force with a federal mission to provide a 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.

The Virginia National Guard has mobilized nearly 2,000 Soldiers and Airmen for federal active duty overseas deployments since January 2014, and they join more than 15,000 Soldiers and Airmen who have mobilized since Sept. 11, 2001.

Since January 2014, the Virginia National Guard has mobilized nearly 2,570 Soldiers, Airmen and members of the VDF on state active duty to respond to 12 different incidents of hurricanes, winter storms and flooding across the Commonwealth. The Virginia Guard also mobilized more than 500 personnel for security operations in Charlottesville Aug. 12, and also deployed more than 500 Soldiers to assist with hurricane recovery operations in the U.S. Virgin Islands. The Virginia National Guard also had nearly 40 Soldiers and VDF members conduct cyber vulnerability assessments in seven different Virginia localities in the last 18 months.

The Virginia Defense Force is authorized by the Code of the Virginia as the all-volunteer reserve of the Virginia National Guard and serves as a force multiplier integrated into all Virginia Guard domestic operations. Members of the VDF volunteer their time for training and community support and are only paid when called to state active duty by an authorization from the Governor of Virginia.

View photos of preparations on Flickr: