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NEWS | Sept. 10, 2021

VNG Soldiers complete flood assistance mission in Buchanan County

By Cotton Puryear | Virginia National Guard Public Affairs Office

Virginia National Guard Soldiers completed their mission assisting local and state emergency services organizations with flooding response Sept. 8, 2021, in Buchanan County, Virginia. Approximately 10 VNG Soldiers assigned to the Cedar Bluff-based 1033rd Engineer Company, 276th Engineer Battalion, 329th Regional Support Group supported the Virginia Department of Emergency Management and dozens of federal, state and local support organizations assist their fellow Virginians impacted by the flooding.
“The Virginia National Guard has been an invaluable resource to the community, and we appreciate all assistance provided,” said Mr. Tim Estes, VDEM Region IV Regional Coordinator.  “Since arrival, they assisted with staging emergency vehicles, traffic control, donation management, daily delivery of food, water and cleaning supplies to residents that are in the directly affected area. They also assisted with  the search and recovery efforts of the one fatality due to the storm.”
According to Maj. Eric M. Johnson, operations officer for the 276th Engineer Battalion, the Soldiers completed 11 logistics resupply missions to nearly 240 residences. They distributed nearly 2,500 cases of water and sports drinks and 1,620 heater meals and 1,550 hot meals.
Johnson said they also assisted with two high-water rescue missions where they evacuated 18 civilians to safety.
“Within 16 hours of the initial notification, the Soldiers arrived in Buchanon County and performed their first high-water transport mission in support of local authorities,” Johnson said. “Lead by Sgt. Jason Taylor, the small contingent far exceeded all expectations and acted as a force multiplier for the first responders, volunteers and local government organizations in the area. They championed this effort and well represented the 276th Engineer Battalion, 329th Regional Support Group and the Virginia Army National Guard.”
Johnson said the Soldiers supported the Buchanan County Sheriff's Office, the Virginia Department of Emergency Management, the Virginia State Police, the American Red Cross and more than 30 other law enforcement, fire department, emergency medical response and community support organizations in the region.

VNG Soldiers began assisting 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, in a news release published Aug. 31. “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.

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.

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