VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — A local retirement community teamed up with local, state and federal agencies to practice hurricane evacuations just in time for the season.
Atlantic Shores Retirement Community volunteered residents and staff to train with FEMA and Eastern Virginia Healthcare Coalition officials and Air National Guard airmen.
“Working together is very important. We’ve all seen in Texas and Louisiana how bad things can get. It’s very important to avoid those types of issues here in Virginia Beach and Hampton Roads,” said Glenn McBride, who is the regional health care coordinator for the Eastern Virginia Health Coalition.
McBride said this is the first year in a while that a group in the state has participated in FEMA’s Vigilant Guard.
It’s an exercise practiced throughout the country.
This drill took a year to prepare.
Staff checked vitals for residents, who were given fake identities and medical conditions.
Those residents were taken to a waiting area where the Air National Guard took over those roles and waited for the Army Reserve to fly in.
Resident Annie Alberi said the drill helped.
“It’s very important because of all the people we lost during Katrina and other events,” she said.
Alberi and many other residents also built relationships with those Air National Guard servicemembers as they waited.
Those bonds built showed that they knew they could rely on staff and the servicemembers.
“I’m going to be OK. That National Guard has come to my rescue,” Alberi joked after reading off her false medical conditions.
While those identities and conditions were fake, both residents and servicemembers knew it prepared them for the real thing.
“We’re always ready,” said Air National Guard Derek Bartman.