South Carolina National Guard engineers help clear roads for Edisto residents
By Capt. Jessica DonnellyOctober 17, 2016
EDISTO, S.C. -- Soldiers with the South Carolina Army National Guard engineer units worked with the city of Edisto in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew to clear the roadways allowing residents to return home in the week following the storm's impact with the coast.
The sand from the beach was washed between the homes during the storm and lay piled 3-5 feet deep on the four-lane road, described U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Brad Owens, South Carolina National Guard Director of Joint Staff.
"Our tasking, in support of [Department of Transportation], is to open up the access road and in order to do that we have [equipment] that can scoop the sand up and pile it off the roadway," added Owens.
By moving the sand, it cleared the road for residents to return home after evacuating the coastal region. It also allowed for first responders to access the area and provide assistance as needed, explained U.S. Army Capt. Christopher Huber, 1221st engineer clearance company commander.
Huber added that the experience the Soldiers get from these types of missions in response to state operations can also apply to their federal mission while deployed.
"We conduct route clearance operations overseas to allow freedom of movement for friendly forces," said Huber. "This translates here in Edisto, and for the state as a whole, because we can clear roads using debris pushing teams that allow freedom of maneuver for civilian traffic and first responders."
The engineer units came from across the state to support the recovery operations along the coast to include the 1221st Route Clearance Company, 1222nd Engineer Company (Sapper), 124th Engineer Company (Horizontal), and the 125th Multi-Role Bridge Company.
"They came from all over South Carolina to help," added Owens. "Their sense of urgency, professionalism and willingness to work hard to get the job done was tested…this is a pretty serious engineer operation because of environmental concerns and other hazards, but they're completing the tasks."
At the peak, the South Carolina National Guard had approximately 2,800 Soldiers and Airmen activated to support state and county emergency management agencies and local first responders after Gov. Nikki Haley declared a State of Emergency Oct. 4, 2016.