April 19, 2011

Quick action secures Pulaski armory after tornado damage

By Cotton Puryear
Virginia Dept. of Military Affairs

SANDSTON, Va. — Quick action by Virginia Guard Soldiers in the wake of two tornadoes that struck in Pulaski County April 8 helped secure the local armory after the front doors were sucked out of their frames. Soldiers of the 1st Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment, 116th Brigade Combat Team quickly moved to secure the armory while at the same time the unit had personnel ready to respond if needed by local emergency response organizations.


Two tornadoes struck Pulaski County April 8 and caused more than $9 million in damage. There was no structural damage to the Pulaski armory, but the front door glass and frames were sucked out onto the front steps leading into the armory.

Governor Bob McDonnell asked President Barack Obama for a federal disaster declaration April 18 to assist Virginia's response to two tornadoes that struck Pulaski County, injuring 10 people and causing more than $9 million in damage.

"There was no structural damage to the armory, but the front doors, entrance glass and frames were totally destroyed and sucked out on to the front steps of the armory," said Lt. Col. Allan Carter, commander of the 1st Battalion. "The roll up door on the rear of the drill floor was ripped off the tracks and left laying on the rear of the drill floor, and there was a significant amount of debris around the armory including trees on the state road leading to and from the armory."

As soon as the storm winds allowed for safe travel to the armory, personnel were stationed to secure the facility and start to work on the clean up.

"Even with the armory taking damage, the unit remained ready to respond to the local community and worked with the local civilian emergency operations center in case the National Guard was needed," Carter said.  A representative from the battalion was at the EOC Friday night and Saturday when decisions were made on how to respond, he explained. "We remained 100% operational with 24-hour security to protect not only our armory but others as well." 

The Guard never received any official requests for assistance, due in part to effective interagency cooperation, Carter said. When the local EOC determined that the Pulaski Police Department needed additional help securing part of the town without power, the state and local officials were able to determine that repositioning state troopers was a quicker and more cost effective way to deal with the event.

At the Virginia Guard headquarters level, a quick response also helped in getting the facility back to normal operations.

"Thanks to the quick action of the Facilities Management Office at Fort Pickett, the front of the armory has been secured with a temporary door and full security has been reestablished," Carter said.

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