By Mr. Cotton Puryear | Virginia National GuardFebruary 7, 2020
RICHMOND, Va. - The Virginia National Guard has staged approximately ten Soldiers and three vehicles for state emergency support duty Feb. 7th in the Richlands and Tazewell County areas. They are ready to assist local and state emergency agencies in responding to potential impacts from heavy rains and flooding. The Soldiers are staged with light/medium tactical trucks for high water transportation. The VNG also has a rotary-wing aviation rescue hoist crew on standby.
"I am incredibly proud of how quickly and safely our Soldiers responded to the call of duty on such short notice and are ready to assist if needed," said Maj. Gen. Timothy P. Williams, the Adjutant General of Virginia. "Whether we are mobilizing a small group of Soldiers like this or staging 1,500 personnel across the commonwealth as we did for Hurricane Florence, the Virginia National Guard has shown that it can rapidly respond with the capabilities our state agency partners request. It is an honor for us to be part of the multi-agency state response, ready to keep our fellow Virginians safe."
Williams also stressed the importance of support from employers and families, especially during short notice mobilizations.
"These Soldiers have full-time jobs and families, and those employers and loved ones drive on when Soldiers go on duty," Williams said. "We couldn't effectively conduct our mission without their support, and I can't thank them enough for the important role they play."
Governor Ralph Northam declared a state of emergency Feb. 6th in response to heavy rains and extreme flooding in multiple areas in Virginia. Localities in Southwest Virginia have been struck by flooding, and as the storm continues to move east across Virginia, impacts and storm damage are expected statewide.
A state of emergency allows the commonwealth to mobilize resources and position people and equipment to assist in storm response and recovery efforts, and the VNG is helping as part of the state's emergency response team.
"This weather is potentially dangerous, and rivers and streams can reach flood stage hours after the rain has passed," said Northam in a news release. "I urge all Virginians to monitor forecasts and be prepared to obey local evacuation orders if needed. We are grateful to first responders who are working to rescue people from flooded homes and keep citizens safe."
According to the Governor's news release, the flooding has affected homes and required rescue of citizens, particularly in Southwest Virginia. According to reports from emergency officials, more than 500 residents in and around the town of Richlands, and Tazewell County, have been displaced by flooding and needed rescue from their homes. Several roads in Southwest Virginia are closed or washed out.
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 and not the VNG directly.