Natural Disaster/Hurricane Response

VDOF Fact Sheet

The Virginia Department of Forestry (VDOF) provides support and assistance to state agencies and localities during natural disasters and other emergency situations.

Frequently asked questions on VDOF’s role with hurricanes

What are VDOF’s responsibilities during an emergency?

VDOF’s key role is to assist localities and other state agencies by providing specialized resources, equipment, and incident management personnel. Specific responsibilities include:

  • Providing emergency incident management personnel
  • Removing debris and branches from roadways and coordinating clean-up with other entities - such as power companies
  • Assessing damages and providing emergency engineering services
  • Providing back-up communications to support emergency response and recovery operations

What is VDOF’s role during an evacuation?

VDOF does not call for or order evacuations. That is the role of the Governor and localities. Localities manage the evacuation process. VDOF assists with traffic control.

How does VDOF prepare for natural disasters and possible evacuations?

It is a year-round effort that involves training and drills. VDOF has standard operating procedures for natural disasters so that employees involved know their roles, have been trained and have practiced their roles during drills. Employees also have plenty of field experience from assisting with natural disasters on a national level.

Storm preparation also involves getting manpower and resources together well before a storm hits. Crewmembers are standing by to work around the clock with the necessary equipment such as trucks, chainsaws and construction equipment.

What are Emergency Strike Teams?

A group of VDOF resources that are deployed to distressed areas that need immediate assistance with incident management, public safety, clean-up and other tasks related to helping citizens and localities recover.

Emergency Strike Teams travel from other areas of the state to assist those VDOF crews based in regions struck by a natural disaster or other emergency.

All Emergency Strike teams are put on alert for any emergency. Teams would help with incident management, public safety, debris removal and be called on first. Additional teams may be called on to handle incident management and damage assessments on larger scale.

How many VDOF workers will respond to a forecast natural disaster?

Nearly 250 VDOF employees are ready to go should a natural disaster have statewide impact.

How many pieces of equipment will you deploy?

For a statewide storm - 250 trucks, 100 dozers, 12 Hummers and 200 chain saws for immediate repsonse. Other specialized equipment such as mobile command posts, ATVs and portable equipment supply trailers will be used.

What kind of damage do you expect?

Downed trees, road washouts from flooding and possible bridge damage. VDOF will protect public safety, perform emergency rescues, and assist with emergency road clearing to provide access and begin the recovery process.

During a severe weather event, the following Public Information sources are available:

  • General hurricane preparation and information hotline set up by the Virginia
    Department of Emergency Management: http://www.vaemergency.com
  • Virginia Public Inquiry Center: 1.866.880.4280