ROANOKE, Va. – Virginia National Guard Soldiers helped evacuate more than 100 people in the Roanoke area after days of heavy rain caused major flooding in and around the city.
Soldiers assigned to the Lynchburg-based 1st Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, supported the Roanoke Fire-EMS Swift Water Rescue Team and Roanoke Police Department. Using their medium tactical vehicles, the Soldiers traversed high water to help rescue approximately 115 people from a Roanoke hotel threatened by floodwaters May 21.
During the rescue, the Swift Water Rescue Team used their watercraft to make sure there were no submerged hazardous obstacles before the National Guard trucks drove through the high water. The Soldiers then transported the trapped citizens through the floodwater back to dry ground. Those rescued were taken to other hotels in the area.
Several pets were also rescued.Lt. Col. Jim Tierney, commander of the 1-116th, highlighted the efforts of his Soldiers and the partnerships VNG has with the Virginia Department of Emergency Management and local first responders.
“We’re thankful our Soldiers were able to be there to help Roanoke and the surrounding areas impacted by the flooding,” said Tierney. “We’ve got a great working relationship with the local authorities, which allows our Soldiers to quickly integrate with first responders to ensure we can do the most good. The Red Dragons continue to support the Commonwealth and our communities in time of need.”
Floodwaters inundated parts of Roanoke after several days of heavy rain, attributed to a slow-moving weather system. The system caused flash flooding as well as river flooding, with the Roanoke River cresting near “major” flood stage before starting to recede.
A spokesperson from Roanoke Fire-EMS praised the Soldiers for their help.
“The National Guard was able to assist local responders in a seamless operation to evacuate a hotel surrounded by floodwaters,” said Roanoke Fire-EMS Capt. Robert Reid. “The assistance from the National Guard gave us the opportunity to quickly evacuate the residents and do so safely. The city of Roanoke is very appreciative of their support.”
The VNG receives domestic missions through the Virginia Department of Emergency Management to assist communities in need.