Feb. 12, 2010

DMA wraps up support missions for historic winter storm

By Maj. Cotton Puryear
Virginia Guard Public Affairs

RICHMOND, Va. —The Virginia Department of Military Affairs expects to have its active snow recovery assistance missions closed out by late afternoon or early evening Feb. 12 and will shift focus to safely returning personnel to their home stations across the commonwealth. The DMA has been assisting state and local emergency services organizations respond to the historic winter snowstorm that blanketed Virginia since Gov. Bob McDonnell declared a state of emergency Feb. 3.

  Virginia Guard Soldiers assist local first responders

Soldiers from the Fredericksburg-based 116th Brigade Support Battalion assist first responders from the Stafford County Fire and Rescue Department Feb. 6, 2010. (Photo by Sgt. Andrew H. Owen, Virginia Guard Public Affairs) 

Please visit the Virginia Guard Flickr page for more photos.

“We have been released from all of our active missions, and now we need to make sure we get our Soldiers, Airmen and members of the Virginia Defense Force back to their home station safely,” said Col. Rob McMillin, Virginia National Guard joint operations officer.

The Guard stood down the Joint Task Force 91 command and control headquarters around noon, and finalized their planning for personnel to travel back to home station. Some units have been operating near their home readiness center and will be able to return home quickly, but Soldiers operating in Fairfax County will be returning on Saturday to home stations in Danville, Sandston, Norfolk and Hampton.

The Guard executed more than 80 missions from the Virginia Department of Emergency Management in Winchester, Harrisonburg, Staunton, Charlottesville, Fredericksburg, Warrenton, Leesburg, Fairfax County and Alexandria. During the peak of operations, there were almost 700 Soldiers, Airmen and members of the Virginia Defense Force on duty.

Virginia Guard Soldiers assisted state and local emergency services organizations by conducting a variety of missions ranging from transporting emergency services personnel, transporting citizens for medical assistance or shelter and recovering stuck emergency vehicles. Many Soldiers have been co-located with fire and rescue personnel where they have put out car fires, cleared debris and transporting patients. 

With the possibility of more winter weather on the way, McMillin said the Guard has made a tentative plan for how it would respond and begun initial preparations in case the call comes from the Governor.

“One of our biggest lessons learned from the winter storm in December is to get our people in the right place before the weather hits,” McMillin said. “We were very successful in getting our people to the right place with these latest storms, and if we get the call again, we want to make sure we are ready.”

Related Stories:

DMA repositions personnel, equipment for possible future winter storm-related missions (Feb. 7)

Virginia Department of Military Affairs personnel ready for snow duty (Feb. 5)

Virginia Department of Military Affairs staging personnel for possible snow duty (Feb. 4)

January 2010 winter storm wrap up

December 2009 winter storm wrap up:

Photos from December 2009 snow duty

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