RICHMOND, Va. –
After staging Soldiers and Airmen with tactical trucks and chain saws at multiple locations across the state for possible severe weather response, the Virginia National Guard transitioned back to routine operations Oct. 4, 2022. Personnel initially staged at readiness centers to prepare for possible impacts from Hurricane Ian, then resources shifted when a weather system threatened flooding on the Eastern Shore and in the Hampton Roads area.
Soldiers deployed, linked up with local emergency managers and were ready to respond if needed.
“Once again the Virginia National Guard demonstrated the ability to rapidly respond and provide requested capabilities to assist fellow Virginians in a time of need,” said Brig. Gen. James W. Ring, Virginia National Guard Director of the Joint Staff. “We are fortunate Virginia was spared from any significant weather impacts, but if you look to Florida you can see how serious these situations can be and the importance of the National Guard supporting multi-agency response efforts.”
The VNG staged eight Soldiers and four tactical trucks capable of high water transportation Oct. 3 on the Eastern Shore area of Virginia and also had twelve Soldiers and six trucks ready in the Hampton Roads area. The Soldiers linked up with local emergency managers and were ready to provide assistance if needed.
The VNG initially staged approximately 60 Soldiers and Airmen at key locations in the Abingdon, Roanoke, Richmond and Virginia Beach areas for possible severe weather response operations related to Hurricane Ian Sept. 30, 2022. Most of those forces stood down Oct. 3, but some were redirected to the Eastern Shore and additional personnel were brought on duty in the Hampton Roads area
“The Virginia National Guard stays in close contact with the Virginia Department of Emergency Management and the rest of Virginia’s emergency response community when severe weather threatens in order to quickly and safely provide capabilities requested by localities,” Ring said after forces were repositioned. “We are extremely proud of the rapid response of our personnel to get high water transportation capabilities in place where it could be needed. As always, we are very thankful for the continued support of families and employers which is absolutely critical to mission success.”
Additional Soldiers, Airmen and members of the Virginia Defense Force were on duty to provide logistics, administrative and operations center support for the response teams at multiple locations in the state.
Personnel from the Joint Force Headquarters Virginia J4 / G4 Logistics Directorate, VDF and task force coordinated to distribute mission essential equipment such as hundreds of meals, dozens of life vests and radios to five staging locations.
“The VDF logged more than 1,100 safe miles while distributing these critical supplies, and they were essential in ensuring the Virginia National Guard was postured to respond when called upon,” said Lt. Col. Justin Linza, deputy J4.
The VDF expanded their mission support for this response compared to previous events with personnel deploying to multiple VNG staging locations to provide administrative and logistical support. VDF personnel also provided day and night shift operations center augmentation at the Virginia Emergency Operations Center and the VNG Joint Operations Operations as well as public information information support.
Typical missions for the VNG during hurricane or tropical storm response operations are transporting first responders, moving citizens to safe locations or distributing food and water in remote areas as well as providing chain saw teams to help reduce debris to clear roads or power line routes.
Debris reductions teams were alerted for possible duty but not activated and staged.
The Virginia Helicopter Aquatic Rescue Team was also been alerted to a higher state of readiness and could have been fully activated if needed. The Virginia HART is a VNG Black Hawk helicopter with rescue hoist capabilities and rescue technicians from the Chesterfield County Fire and Emergency Medical Services Scuba Rescue Team. VNG aviators bring the capabilities of their helicopters to the mission, while Chesterfield brings first responders with swift-water rescue training and other life-saving proficiencies. Read more about the HART partnership at https://ngpa.us/21904 and view photos of recent training on Flickr at https://ngpa.us/21905.
During domestic operations, the VNG receives missions from VDEM and responds as part of a multi-agency team with other state and local agencies to provide support capabilities requests by Virginia communities. VDEM determines where capabilities are allocated, and the VNG does not respond to direct requests for assistance. Localities looking for VNG support should make their requests to VDEM, and they determine which organization can best provide the requested assistance as they coordinate the regional and statewide response.