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Starting Friday, the mountain state will host Vigilant Guard for the first time, a Federal Emergency Management Agency exercise co-funded by the U.S. Northern Command and the National Guard Bureau. The West Virginia National Guard and officials from the State Emergency Management Department will welcome more than 300 service members, public safety first responders, private sector partners and volunteers from across the country.

International partners from Qatar, Peru and Oman will also be on site.

“Vigilant Guard 2021 will test West Virginia’s ability to respond to a large-scale disaster.” said Governor Jim Justice. “Smooth coordination during emergency response is really important to save lives and requires cooperation from all levels of government. I applaud the efforts of everyone involved for their hard work in showing West Virginia’s responsiveness to the nation and making this exercise a success. “

Mountain State residents are no strangers to natural disasters and emergency scenarios. Boone, Clay, Fayette, Kanawha, and Nicholas Counties, where the exercises take place, are a perfect location.

“Vigilant Guard enables us to practice our contingency plans with the entire community. It will put us in a better position to serve our citizens and make our entire state safer. “ said WVEMD Director GE McCabe.

Wonderful. It sounds like the residents of our own state, as well as the rest of the country – and beyond – will benefit from the four-day exercises.

While FEMA and the West Virginia National Guard have officials in the same location at the same time, let’s do a little work on the speed and effectiveness of the post-disaster recovery effort. Remember, just a few months ago, about 100 families in Mountain State were waiting for cases to be resolved after being flooded more than five years ago.

It is great comfort to know that this week’s exercises will help rescue workers save lives in the heat of a disaster, and it is good to see West Virginia play a role in that effort. Now let’s work to improve the consequences for these families.

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