Virginia Guard Prepares for Possible Hampton Roads Flooding
By Cotton Puryear Virginia National Guard
SANDSTON, Va., Oct. 9, 2016 – The Virginia National Guard is staging about 160 soldiers in the Hampton Roads area with Humvees, light/medium tactical trucks and chainsaws to be ready to assist with possible flood-response operations caused by Hurricane Matthew.
The soldiers and vehicles were scheduled to be in place and ready to assist local law enforcement and emergency response organizations this morning as part of the state's multiagency response.
"Multiple localities in the Hampton Roads area are requesting high-mobility transport and debris reduction capabilities, and the Virginia Department of Emergency Management requested that we stage personnel with vehicles and chainsaws in order to rapidly respond if needed," said Army Brig. Gen. Paul F. Griffin, director of the joint staff for the Virginia National Guard.
Expected missions for the Guard include using Humvees and light and medium tactical trucks to provide transportation through high water, Griffin said. The 4x4 light medium tactical vehicle has a 2.5-ton capacity, and the 6x6 medium tactical vehicle has a 5-ton capacity. Soldiers will be organized into debris-reduction teams with chainsaws.
During domestic operations, the Virginia National Guard receives 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.
"We ask that if anyone needs assistance because of the severe weather, that they call 911 or their local dispatcher and do not contact the Virginia National Guard directly," Griffin said. "If you let them know you need help, they will determine what emergency services are best suited to assist you. They will contact us if it appropriate for us to take action."
The Virginia National Guard last served on state active duty when it staged more than 270 soldiers at readiness centers and fire stations Sept. 3 in the Hampton Roads and Eastern Shore areas as part of the response effort in the wake of Hurricane Hermine. The Guard received seven mission taskings to support local officials with possible evacuation of citizens and transportation of first responders through high water. With Virginia escaping any significant impacts from the severe weather, the Guard returned to routine operations late the next day.
In June, 20 soldiers with Humvees and light and medium tactical trucks assisted with flood-response operations in Alleghany and Botetourt counties. Soldiers from the Staunton-based 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team quickly responded and were on location and ready for duty within 12 hours of the start of alert notifications.
In February, more than 60 soldiers assisted with cleanup efforts in areas of Virginia hardest hit by severe weather. Soldiers helped to clear fallen trees and other debris in Essex, Westmoreland, Sussex, Patrick and Appomattox Counties. Virginia Army National Guard crews flew two missions to transport emergency managers on an aerial visual assessment and also captured images for damage estimates.
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