McAuliffe declares state of emergency to help in wake of Harvey

Virginia National Guard flight crews load up five UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters Aug. 31, 2017, and head toward Texas, where they will assist with Hurricane Harvey recovery efforts. Approximately 40 Virginia Soldiers departed from the Army Aviation Support Facility in Sandston, Virginia, along with several members of the Chesterfield County Fire and Emergency Medical Service Scuba Rescue Team. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. 1st Class Terra C. Gatti)

RICHMOND, Va. (WAVY) — Governor Terry McAuliffe issued an executive order Friday, declaring a state of emergency that will allow the Commonwealth to expedite aid to Gulf Coast areas impacted by Hurricane Harvey.

By declaring a state of emergency, the governor authorizes Virginia state agencies to support response and recovery efforts to states affected by Harvey and to alleviate any issues that get in the way of gasoline transport through Virginia.

“We anticipate some impacts to the national fuel supply until Gulf Coast refineries can come back on line after flood waters have receded,” said Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security Brian Moran. “Until that time, Virginia will work with distributors and neighboring states to ensure critical fuel supplies can traverse Virginia highways as smoothly as possible.”

The governor’s office says the state of emergency is similar to the response ordered by former Governor Mark Warner in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

“Virginian’s continue to pray for those still combating the devastating flooding from Hurricane Harvey,” said Governor McAuliffe. “I have pledged the Commonwealth’s aid for whatever the impacted areas request from us…This executive order will enable us to preposition even more aid to be quickly deployed into the area as needed.”

The order also directed the Virginia National Guard and the state’s defense force to assist in providing aid.

Seven National Guard helicopters and about 40 soldiers are already supporting rescue operations.

Virginia National Guard helicopters, soldiers heading to Texas

Two MH-60 Navy squadrons from Norfolk — including 112 personnel and six helicopters — are already in Texas. They’ve rescued hundreds of people so far.

The American Red Cross, Operation Blessing and the the Virginia Task Force 2 Urban Search and Rescue Team, of Virginia Beach, are also in Texas helping with response and relief efforts.

Twenty Virginia Department of Forestry staff members are in southeast Texas as well to help the U.S. Forest Service.The Virginia Department of Emergency Management has sent emergency managers to help with sheltering operations and the coordination of the many volunteer organizations on the ground.

McAuliffe is calling on Virginia residents to donate to legitimate causes helping with Harvey relief.

Harvey relief efforts – How you can help

The Red Cross says financial donations are a critical need at this time. Click here to donate.