By Edwin L Wriston
The West Virginia National Guard responded to calls for assistance in eastern Kanawha County last week following an excessive rainfall event that occurred, producing up to 9.1 inches of rain in some areas.
Assets activated from the WVNG included the All-Hazards Swift Water Rescue Team, UH-72 Lakota and UH-60M Blackhawk helicopters, which were immediately put into a standby status to prepare for emergency dispatch in coordination with the West Virginia Emergency Management Division (WVEMD).
The UH-72 Lakota helicopter and crew were in the air in less than an hour from notification to assist officials and responders, and the All-hazards Swift Water Rescue Team pre-deployed their equipment and personnel closer to the area of impact.
Three damage assessment teams with the All-Hazards Training Team have also been activated and will begin visiting locations to assist local officials with FEMA-required assessments Tuesday.
“Our Guard motto is, ‘Always Ready, Always There,’ and this morning our personnel exemplified that motto,” stated Adjutant General Maj. Gen. Bill Crane. “We will continue to monitor the situation with our partner agencies, and additional manpower and units will be available to provide support to our first responder agencies as requested by the counties.”
The WVNG Joint Operations Center (JOC) is on full activation and will remain so until the declared State of Emergency is resolved.
West Virginia Governor Jim Justice declared a State of Emergency in five counties impacted by an excessive rainfall event that occurred during the early morning hours of August 28, 2023.
Significant flash flooding impacted Kanawha, Braxton, Calhoun, Clay, and Roane counties, with damages to roads, bridges, and homes, resulting in a multi-agency response effort from local and state-level first responders.