ARLINGTON, Va. (2/12/14) – National Guard personnel from Alabama through Pennsylvania and the Northeast were gearing up for duty today due to predicted ice and snow storms.
In Georgia, where ice and a snowfall paralyzed Atlanta earlier this month, troops were ready for such possible missions as removing debris and assisting stranded motorists.
Snow was to start tonight in the Middle Atlantic, including Washington, D.C., Maryland and Pennsylvania and then spread northward into Thursday night. The weather service said snow may continue in portions of New England before ending later Friday.
The Virginia National Guard has been authorized to bring up to 300 Soldiers, Airmen and members of the Virginia Defense Force on state active duty.
The Virginia Guard plans to stage personnel at readiness centers along the I-81 corridor and in the Central Virginia area along Route 29, I-64 and I-95 in order to be ready to support potential response missions. The alert process to notify personnel to report for duty has begun, and they are scheduled to be in place by late afternoon to respond if needed.
Gov. Terry McAuliffe declared a Virginia state of emergency Tuesday, an action that authorizes state agencies to be ready to assist local governments in responding to the major snow storm forecast to hit the Commonwealth.
In declaring a state of emergency, the governor authorizes state agencies to identify and position resources for quick response anywhere they are needed in Virginia and allows the Virginia National Guard to begin alerting and staging forces.
Other states in the projected path of the storm took similar action.
“Now is the time for Virginia to get ready for this storm,” McAuliffe said. “This state of emergency declaration will empower the Virginia Department of Emergency Management, the Department of Transportation, the Virginia National Guard, and our electric and cable utilities to prepare for a storm that is predicted to create power outages and significant travel challenges across the Commonwealth over the next few days.”
Potential missions for the Virginia Guard and Virginia Defense Force include assisting stranded motorists, transportation of healthcare professionals and the seriously ill to medical treatment facilities, transportation of personnel or equipment to potential heating or sheltering locations and downed tree removal, said Col. James Zollar, director of joint operations for the Virginia Guard.
“We need to get our personnel and equipment staged at key locations before the severe weather hits so we can rapidly respond when we are needed,” he said.