By Marine Corps Sgt. David StatenSeptember 12, 2018
WASHINGTON -- The governors of North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia and Maryland declared states of emergency Monday as Hurricane Florence approaches the East Coast. Additionally, the mayor of Washington, D.C., declared a state of emergency due to anticipated torrential rainfall. The storm is forecast to make landfall along the Atlantic coast early Friday as a major hurricane.
Here's a quick look at what states in the storm's path are doing:
North Carolina will place 320 National Guard members on state active duty to integrate into North Carolina's Emergency Management's disaster response plan, National Guard Bureau officials said. An additional 7,000 North Carolina Guard members are ready to mobilize when called to state active duty by the governor. The North Carolina National Guard's first priority is safeguarding the lives and property of its state's citizens, officials said. As of Wednesday, National Guard Bureau numbers showed about 160 personnel on duty.
National Guard capabilities to support North Carolina in the aftermath of a hurricane include stranded motorist and flood victim rescue using high-water clearance vehicles, warehouse and supply transport, shelter support, food and water distribution, communications support, road closure support and helicopter aquatic rescue teams, officials said.
As of this morning there were about 2,000 South Carolina Army National Guard and Air National Guard members on state active duty, and they will remain on duty as long as needed, according to Army Lt. Col. Cindi King, the director of public affairs for the South Carolina National Guard.
Immediate missions will include aerial and ground support for the South Carolina Highway Patrol if lane reversals are issued and security and assistance for law enforcement officials.
The Virginia National Guard is planning to initially bring up to 1,500 Soldiers, airmen and members of the Virginia Defense Force on state active duty for possible assistance with the state's response operations for Hurricane Florence, according to National Guard Bureau officials. Gov. Ralph Northam has authorized up to 6,000 personnel for response operations and those individuals are alerted and on standby.
As of Wednesday morning, about 400 Army National Guard troops were on duty, according to NGB figures.
Potential missions for the Virginia National Guard include high-water transportation, debris reduction, commodity distribution, shelter management assistance and rotary-wing aviation search and rescue, the officials said.
The Virginia National Guard plans to stage personnel at readiness centers in key locations throughout the commonwealth in order to be ready to rapidly respond if needed, National Guard Bureau officials said. Additional Soldiers, airmen and Virginia Defense Force members will be on duty in Richmond and at Fort Pickett to provide mission command, logistics, administrative and public information support.
The Maryland National Guard is ready to support the governor, the Maryland Emergency Management Agency, or MEMA, and other partner agencies as they prepare for, respond to and recover from the effects of Hurricane Florence, National Guard Bureau officials said. The Joint Operations Center is manned around the clock, and they are in constant contact with MEMA, ready to respond as needed. No personnel were on duty in Maryland as of Wednesday morning, according to NGB reports.
"Military organization and training enables unsurpassed capabilities at home in times of large-scale emergency or disaster response," said Air Force Brig. Gen. Jeffrey W. Burkett, vice director of domestic operations and force development for the National Guard Bureau. "In other words, the experience and education acquired by National Guard personnel significantly benefits the sense of urgency for us to provide our unique capabilities in times of disaster."
Other states are sending assistance as well: Alaska's 176th Wing is scheduled to support the effort with a C-17 Globemaster III, an HC-130J Combat King II, associated air crew and Guardian Angel personnel. Guardian Angel Teams comprise a combat rescue officer and a pararescueman who have specialized medical training, which can be especially beneficial during a natural disaster and its aftermath.
Also, the West Virginia National Guard's 167th Airlift Wing in Martinsburg began receiving tractor-trailer loads of water, food, tents, cots, blankets and fuel on Wednesday morning. That unit is serving as a staging area for the disaster relief supplies that will be dispatched from the base as needed pending Hurricane Florence's impact.