West Virginia Guard Prepares for Hurricane Florence Response By Air Force Capt. Holli Nelson

The West Virginia National Guard continues to ramp up efforts to prepare for the impact of Hurricane Florence on the Mountain State, while simultaneously lending support to neighboring National Guard units and federal agencies.
The 167th Airlift Wing, West Virginia Air National Guard, is serving as a staging area for the Federal Emergency Management Agency ahead of Hurricane Florence’s expected impact along the east coast this week. About 70 trailers full of food, water, blankets, cots, tents and fuel will be on stand-by, ready to mobilize as needed from the Martinsburg, W.Va. base. Tractor-trailers brought in the supplies from FEMA warehouses in Cumberland, Md. and Frederick, Md. Airmen assigned to the 167th AW worked with full-time FEMA employees, FEMA reserve employees and members of FEMA Corp to organize the staging area. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Master Sgt. Emily Beightol-Deyerle)

The West Virginia National Guard has dispatched numerous joint enabling teams from the Army Interagency Education and Training Center to locations in the path of Hurricane Florence. As of Sept. 12, 13 soldiers have deployed to the National Guard Coordination Center, South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia.

Joint team members have advanced training in homeland defense and response and will serve as additional assets and liaisons for National Guard units’ requirements at the national level in coordination with the National Guard Coordination Center. In addition, the West Virginia National Guard’s swift water rescue team, a joint endeavor with Clendenin and Glasgow Volunteer Fire Departments, is on standby for staging and deployment depending on the tracking of the storm.

Disaster Relief Supplies

At the 167th Airlift Wing in Martinsburg, West Virginia, 20 Air Guard personnel been working with representatives from the Federal Emergency Management Agency Region 3 to prepare a staging area for disaster relief supplies. Since Sept. 11, nearly 70 tractor-trailer loads of water, food, tents, cots, blankets and fuel arrived at the airbase where the supplies will await distribution as needed pending Hurricane Florence’s impact.

“We’re staging commodities here in anticipation of a potential flood hazard in West Virginia,” said Randy Branson, a logistics planner for the Response Division of FEMA Region 3, and team leader for the staging operations at the 167th AW. “We’re operating under what we call a surge.”

West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice authorized up to 50 Guardsmen and women into a duty status Sept. 11 for preparation and staging at locations across the state.

“Our Guard folks and our state and local emergency management and response agencies are working as one cohesive team in this process and I commend them on this effort,” Justice said. “There’s still a lot of unknowns at this point, and we want every one of our citizens to be safe throughout this ordeal. I urge you all to continue to prepare for this storm, monitor local reports and heed any warnings from our agencies working around the clock.”



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