RICHMOND, Va. –
Virginia National Guard Soldiers began assisting state and local emergency services organizations with flood response Aug. 31, 2021, in Buchanan County, Virginia, and additional Soldiers staged in Winchester and Fredericksburg in case they were needed for high water transport or debris reduction.
“Virginia National Guard Soldiers quickly responded to the call of duty and were ready to assist in Buchanan County on very short notice, and we are staging personnel in Fredericksburg and Winchester as well,” said Brig. Gen. James W. Ring, Virginia National Guard Director of the Joint Staff. “Our state and local partners depend on our ability to rapidly respond, and this is just another example of the dedication they have demonstrated time and time again to help their fellow Virginian in a time of need. We owe a special thanks to their families and employers for their continued to support which is so critical to mission success.”
Governor Ralph Northam declared a state of emergency to respond to impacts from Tropical Depression Ida, providing resources to localities and authorizing state active duty for the VNG to assist as part of the state’s emergency response team. According to the Governor’s news release, localities in the southwest region have already experienced heavy rainfall in recent days, leading to flash floods and complicating storm preparation efforts. In addition to the flood threat, there is also a risk of tornadoes across the commonwealth late Tuesday night through Wednesday.
Approximately 10 VNG Soldiers assigned to the Cedar Bluff-based 1033rd Engineer Company, 276th Engineer Battalion, 329th Regional Support Group with four light/medium tactical trucks staged at the Virginia Department of Emergency Management command post in Hurley, Virginia, to support local and state emergency services organizations to provide high water transport capabilities after severe flooding impacted the region. The Soldiers conducted multiple missions, and they have assisted with transporting food and water as well as helping evacuate citizens to safety. They remained on duty through the weekend to continue assisting local authorities.
Approximately 30 Soldiers assigned to the Fredericksburg-based 229th Brigade Engineer Battalion, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team and the Winchester-based 3rd Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment, 116th IBCT staged at their respective armories with trucks capable of high water transportation and chain saw teams for clearing debris. They were ready to respond early Wednesday morning, and they were released at the end of the day when severe weather pushed further north and didn't impact the region.
Additional Soldiers, Airmen and members of the Virginia Defense Force were on duty in Richmond and at Fort Pickett providing mission command, administrative, logistics and public information support.
“My thoughts are with those across the country impacted by this devastating storm,” Northam said. “While we’re fortunate in Virginia to have avoided the hurricane itself, heavy rainfall is expected to cause additional flash flooding and dangerous conditions in portions of the Commonwealth. I’m grateful to the first responders and rescue crews currently on the ground, and I urge Virginians in these regions to stay alert.”
During domestic operations, the VNG receives missions through the Virginia Department of Emergency Management and responds as part of a multi-agency team with the Virginia State Police, the Virginia Department of Transportation and other state and local emergency agencies to provide support capabilities to communities in need. The VNG is not able to respond to direct support requests from the public, so people in need should call 911 or their local dispatcher.
About the Virginia National Guard:
The Virginia National Guard is a unique dual-status force with a federal mission to provide a combat reserve for the U.S. Army and U.S. Air Force 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 traces the history and tradition of Citizen-Soldier service to the founding of Jamestown in 1607, and there has been a military presence defending Virginia ever since.
The VNG’s support to Virginia’s COVID-19 response ended July 31, 2021, after more than 460 days of assisting with vaccinations, testing and administrative, logistics and planning support at locations across the state. During COVID-19 response operations, nearly 600 VNG Soldiers and Airmen and members of the Virginia Defense Force completed more than 1,100 missions to help keep their fellow Virginians safe during the global pandemic. They supported nearly 160 different local, state and federal agencies over the course of the mobilization.