STAUNTON, Va. — Virginia National Guard Soldiers on state active duty have been using Humvees and medium tactical trucks to provide mobility support to help Virginia State Police and local first responders reach residents requiring assistance after a historic snowfall blanketed the state.
More than 100 Soldiers, Airmen and members of the Virginia Defense Force are also on duty in Richmond, Sandston and Fort Pickett, where they are providing mission command, administrative and logistical support for the overall mission.
Since they began operations Jan. 22, Virginia Guard members have escorted or transported 49 law enforcement, emergency medical and fire rescue personnel to emergency locations as well as transported 26 essential medical and support personnel to their place of work.
Guard members assisted in saving at least two lives in Virginia. They also provided mobility support to citizens and law enforcement personnel for non-emergency situations, transported essential medical supplies, towed fire trucks stuck in the snow and conducted health and welfare checks.
"Working so closely with the Virginia State Police and local government emergency response officials under the guidance of the Virginia Department of Emergency Management has proven to be very effective,” said Army Maj. Gen. Timothy P. Williams, the adjutant general of Virginia.
Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe authorized up to 500 personnel for state active duty in his initial emergency declaration, and then he increased that to 700.
Delaware Guard response
The Delaware National Guard activated nearly 300 Soldiers and Airmen to support the citizens of Delaware who were affected by the blizzard that hit the Eastern Seaboard.
The National Guard leaned forward before the storm, prepositioning operators and tactical vehicles such as Humvees, 5-ton trucks and wreckers to each county's emergency operations center. From each EOC, troops and vehicles were dispatched to local fire houses and state and local police departments.
Officially, troops supported nearly 100 missions and 165 individual citizens across Delaware. Missions included transporting medical professionals and first responders to and from work shifts and moving people to safety from flooding or effects of the snowstorm.
Because of flooding in Sussex County, the Guard helped evacuate approximately 40 residents from the Oak Orchard/Long Neck area to area shelters or homes of friends. In New Castle County, due to the snowfall, the Delaware Guard helped dozens of people who needed emergency medical care or were stranded on the road.
Included in those missions were efforts to recover an ambulance and a fire truck, along with an aerial assessment of the flood damage in Sussex County, which was reported to Gov. Jack Markell and other state officials.
"Even though the Delaware National Guard has troops deployed around the world, we were able to provide the necessary support to our great state," said Army Maj. Gen. Frank Vavala, the adjutant general of Delaware.
In addition to helping 165 Delawareans on official missions, Soldiers and Airmen "unofficially" assisted countless stranded motorists and moved abandoned vehicles for Department of Transportation workers to plow roads and first responders to complete their missions.
Guardsmen helping elsewhere
Guard members were activated in other states as well. Their personnel strength numbers as of Jan. 25:
- Washington, D.C., about 100
- Kentucky, more than 75
- Maryland, more than 500
- New Jersey, more than 120
- Pennsylvania, more than 300
- West Virginia, more than 120