By 1st Lt. Jessica Donnelly, Terri Moon CronkOctober 7, 2015
WASHINGTON (Army News Service, Oct. 7, 2015) -- National Guard Soldiers and airmen in South Carolina continue to battle the ravages of historic flooding from Hurricane Joaquin.
Heavy rains may have subsided in the Lowcountry - an area along the coast - but South Carolina National Guard relief and recovery efforts are still underway as water levels continue to rise in local rivers as the result of floodwaters now arriving from higher elevations.
Soldiers, with the South Carolina National Guard, are working with local law enforcement and civilian authorities conducting health and welfare checks of community members, supporting evacuation efforts, providing transportation to first responders through high-water areas, as well as continuing to deliver sandbags throughout the area to protect from flood waters.
"We continue to be proactive, seeing how we can assist the local [emergency operation centers, or EOCs]," said Capt. Hezzie Green, 218th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, Headquarters and Headquarters Company intelligence officer. "We're communicating with the EOCs and sheriff's departments to see what assistance we can provide the communities."
Currently, the Guard's tactical operations center for the area is monitoring the levels of three rivers - Black, Edisto and Waccamaw - and working in support of civilian responders to assist in evacuating people in those areas, Green said.
Lt. Col. Edward Cloyd, 1st Battalion, 118th Infantry Regiment commander, explained that Soldiers who worked in Kingstree, South Carolina, partnered with local law enforcement, traveling door-to-door asking citizens if they needed help evacuating. For those who requested assistance, troops transported them to shelters in the local community - out of harm's way.
"Our biggest concern is always the local population," Green said.
Additional missions have included search and rescue in support of fire departments and other local authorities, providing drinkable water to communities with contaminated water, and assisting in local damage assessments.
Operations continue to focus on evacuating residents in high-water conditions in South Carolina, including sandbag transport across the state to support dams that have broken, levees that have been compromised and roads literally cut in half, said Sgt. 1st Class Joe Cashion, a Guard spokesman.
While Hurricane Joaquin dumped a lot of water up and down the East Coast, South Carolina was hit the hardest.
North Carolina did not receive as much rain and flooding from the passing storm as South Carolina, and about 76 North Carolina Guardsmen remain on state active duty, North Carolina Guard spokesman Army Lt. Col. Matt Devivo said.
"Most of our efforts [were] focused from Wilmington to the South Carolina - a six-county area," Devivo said, adding that Guard troops there supported local emergency management teams, emergency medical services and local law enforcement by executing six high-water rescue vehicle operations and other missions.
About 22 North Carolina Guardsmen and four UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters, with specialized hoist mounts, are working with South Carolina units, and have completed thousands of aerial rescue missions, Guard officials said.