National Guard troops aim to serve during Dorian while thinking of home

Virginia News

ONANCOCK, Va. (WRIC) — Soldiers from the National Guard have been on standby in Virginia, prepared to jump into action and help when disaster strikes.

The Virginia National Guard’s 1173rd Transportation Company came up to the Onancock Armory before Hurricane Dorian reached the Eastern Shore in order to give support to the people in the area.

While the troops in Onancock didn’t respond to any missions on the Eastern Shore Friday afternoon, there was more storm impact in the Hampton Roads area.

For some, joining the National Guard means more than just a uniform but a way to serve a greater purpose by helping those in need. Leaving their normal lives at a moment’s notice is one thing that comes with the duty.

“They tell us basically anywhere from two days to a week, a week and a half,” Sgt. Rachel Conrad said. “So we kind of have to be ready for however long it has to be.”​

RELATED: Virginia National Guard soldiers ready to assist first responders on the Eastern Shore

“We’re leaving our families that are in communities where the storm is hitting,” Cpl. Rishawn Allen explained, “and you know that’s in the back of your mind.”

“When most people will go the other way, we’re going towards the storm,” Allen continued. “Inside you may be a little nervous or a little scared but you still have to put that to aside and just do our job.”

“We have to drop everything, we have our civilian jobs, we have our family at home,” Conrad said. “We have to drop everything and be ready at the drop of a hat to respond to any type of emergency like this.”

“Ten inches of rain could be ten feet of rain, you never know,” Allen explained, “but like I said, we’ll put the fear aside and everything put the pride aside and we’re going out to help. no matter what.”​

Despite not being called on any missions, by local first responders or the Virginia Department of Emergency Management, the unit’s presence before the storm approached the area was critical. The Chesapeake Bay Bridge closes when there are high winds and if the unit was not already in the area, it could have taken them up to seven hours to get around to the Eastern Shore to provide assistance.

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