Virginia National Guard assists flood response operations
Virginia National Guard soldiers assigned to the Staunton-based 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team were staged and ready in Allegheny County to assist local emergency services organizations with flood response operations on Friday.
After Governor McAuliffe declared a state of emergency Thursday night, the Virginia National Guard has activated approximately 20 soldiers with Humvees and light/medium tactical trucks to assist with flood response operations.
The troops were alerted in the early hours of Friday, June 24, and the soldiers and vehicles expected to be in place and ready to assist local law enforcement and emergency response organizations in Alleghany and Botetourt counties by late morning.
"The Virginia Department of Emergency Management contacted us about providing assistance, so we are moving personnel and vehicles into position in order to rapidly respond if needed," said Brigadier General Paul F. Griffin, director of the joint staff for the Virginia National Guard.
According to Griffin, expected missions for the Guard include using Humvees and light/medium tactical trucks to provide transportation for emergency services personnel through high water to conduct damage assessments and assist anyone in danger from high water.
The Virginia National Guard receives their missions through the Virginia Department of Emergency Management to assist the Virginia State Police and other state and local emergency response organizations and is not able to respond to direct support requests from the public, Griffin said.
“If you need assistance because of the severe weather, 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.”
The Virginia National Guard last served on state active duty in February 2016 when more than 60 soldiers assisted with cleanup efforts in areas of Virginia hardest hit by severe weather. Soldiers with chain saws, organized in debris reduction teams, helped clear fallen trees and other debris in Essex, Westmoreland, Sussex, Patrick and Appomattox Counties. Virginia Army National Guard air crews flew two rotary wing aviation missions to transport emergency managers on an aerial visual assessment and also captured images for damage estimates.