RICHMOND, Va. –
The Virginia National Guard staged more than 1,500 personnel Sept. 12, 2018, at key locations across the commonwealth to support local and state emergency management officials with possible response to Hurricane Florence, but most were not needed when the storm turned further south. When Governor Ralph Northam authorized Virginia’s resources could be redirected to North Carolina, the VNG sent sent approximately 40 Soldiers and 20 light medium tactical vehicles to support with recovery efforts where the hurricane caused widespread flooding.
“We are incredibly fortunate that Hurricane Florence seems to have missed Virginia, so now we will turn our attention to supporting our neighbors to the south,” said Maj. Gen. Timothy P. Williams, the Adjutant General of Virginia. “We will keep a small force on standby in Virginia in case the Southwest Virginia area needs any assistance. I am incredibly proud of the great team effort that enabled us to have personnel and equipment ready to respond here in Virginia, and we welcome the opportunity to lend a hand in North Carolina. We know they would do the same for us if we needed the help.”
During domestic operations, the VNG receives missions through the Virginia Department of Emergency Management and responds as part of a multi-agency team. In advance of the hurricane, the VNG received nearly 80 mission requests including liaison officer, staging locations, high water transportation, interoperable communications, rotary wing search and rescue, debris reduction and requests for assistance with stage-managed shelters.
While most of Virginia was spared the impacts of Hurricane Florence, VNG personnel provided assistance in several localities that did see severe weather. Soldiers cleared roadways and transported first responders in Independence, helped recover a man trapped in a vehicle and cleared debris from roadways in Floyd, provided staging for FEMA search and rescue teams in Pulaski and South Boston and helped rescue a dog from raising flood waters while conducting damage assessments in Grayson County.
VNG Soldiers assigned to the Virginia Beach-based 1173rd Transportation Company, 529th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 329th Regional Support Group deployed to North Carolina Sept. 14, and provided supply distribution capabilities as well as high water transport.
With plenty of advanced notice about the possible severe weather, the VNG Joint Staff was able to plan and deploy capabilities at key locations across the commonwealth.
“The key to being able to rapidly respond is staging personnel and resources in strategic locations before the severe weather hits so they can quickly respond to assist communities if they are impacted by the severe weather from Hurricane Florence,” explained Brig. Gen. James Ring, VNG director of the joint the staff.
Additional Soldiers, Airmen and VDF members were on duty in Richmond and Fort Pickett to provide mission command, logistics, administrative and public information support.
Previous Hurricane Recovery Support:
VNG Soldiers supported hurricane recovery operations in the U.S. Virgin Islands in October 2017. Soldiers assigned to the Staunton-based 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team provided mission command for the joint task force that consisted of more than 1,300 National Guard Soldiers and Airmen from 25 states and Washington, D.C. supporting the U.S. Virgin Islands government and Virgin Islands National Guard. The JTF had two core missions of supplying and managing points of distribution and providing assistance to law enforcement in traffic control, fixed site security and basic policing. Soldiers assigned to the Virginia Army National Guard’s 2nd Squadron, 183rd Cavalry Regiment and 3rd Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment managed points of distribution that provided citizens with more than 19,700 cases of water, nearly 25,000 meals and more than 8,000 tarps.
The Fort Pickett-based 157th Engineer Platoon provided the 20 personnel and six dump trucks, and the Blackstone-based 3647th Maintenance Company provided a maintenance team and support vehicle for the Vermont National Guard in September 2011 in the wake of Hurricane Irene. While in Vermont, the Soldiers transported 781 loads in the dump trucks for a total of 8,860 cubic yards of rock and fill dirt. They drove more than 25,600 miles and logged in nearly 2,900 hours of training time on their equipment. They augmented the 133rd Engineer Battalion from the Maine Army National Guard and worked directly for the Vermont Agency of Transportation in coordination with a civilian contractor.
About the Virginia National Guard:
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 VNG has mobilized nearly 2,000 Soldiers and Airmen for federal active duty overseas deployments since January 2014, and a medical evacuation detachment is currently mobilized to support the NATO mission in Kosovo. They join more than 15,000 VNG Soldiers and Airmen who served in combat operations, homeland defense, peacekeeping and stabilization missions since Sept. 11, 2001.
Since January 2014, the VNG has mobilized nearly 3,000 Soldiers, Airmen and members of the Virginia Defense Force on state active duty to respond to hurricanes, winter storms and flooding across the commonwealth.