Volunteer militia assists in clearing roads in Dinwiddie following ice storm

By Zach Armstrong

DINWIDDIE, Va -- The Dinwiddie Civil Defense, an emergency citizens response team, provided upwards of 25 people to pull residents out of ditches, clear downed trees, assist those in emergency situations and provide transportation to those in need following the ice storm that left thousands without power.

After reaching out to Dennis Hale and Sheriff Duck Adams of the Dinwiddie Police Department, the DCD assisted in coordination with Dinwiddie Fire and EMS to clear roads throughout the county. Commander of the DCD Rich Pyle would be in contact with the Emergency Communication Center via ham radio and group chats and be directed towards which road needed to be cleared.

When the coordinated effort began, the DCD only had about a dozen volunteers but as the day went on that number nearly doubled. Volunteers with the DCD would then go to clear every tree they came across also helping any citizen they found to be in distress. In a single day, the organization cleared around 200 trees.

The DCD got started around a year ago as a group of concerned citizens. The official mission statement of the group states that its mission is “to organize, train, equip, and respond to withstand disasters manmade and natural so that we may augment existing infrastructure in order to maintain quality of life. To defend the lives, property, and civil liberties of the citizens of Dinwiddie County,”

In a facebook post on Sunday, Feb. 14, the DCD stated “Whether enlisted or not, the citizen's of Dinwiddie county are a rare breed. They see a disaster and rise to the challenge. Our members of DCD assisted in coordination with Dinwiddie Fire and EMS to clear roads throughout the county. But individual citizens stepped up and brought machinery, tools, sweat, and time from their families to help their fellow citizens. This is civil defense.”

Commander Rick Pyle believes that the efforts made by the DCD manifest not only what the people of Dinwiddie are made of but also what it means to be an American when tough times affect communities.

“This storm show’d the best of what the citizens of Dinwiddie are,” said Rick Pyle, major commander of the Dinwiddie Civil Defense. “In this environment it seems like everybody hates everybody, if you're red or blue or worship a different god the media tells you you're supposed to hate the other side but none of that's true, were all Americans, everyone came out today to help one another, it's really an inspiring thing.”

Although the DCD accumulated a large number of local residents who were willing to sacrifice their time and energy to help out, Pyle gives more credit to the local Police and Firefighters for getting the county through the ice storm.

“We augmented the fire and police department; those guys were out there doing their jobs all day and night, all we are is a group of citizens that organized in advance to prepare for an unforeseen emergency and for the first time were called to service.” said Pyle. “Dinwiddie Civil Defense is just neighbors helping neighbors,”