By Sgt. 1st Class Joe CashionSeptember 19, 2018
CHESTERFIELD, S.C. - Tropical Storm Florence dumped unprecedented amounts of rain on the Carolinas during the weekend of Sept. 14-16, 2018, causing many rivers connecting the two states to overflow. That led to flooding in many rural populated areas, forcing evacuations, and roads to washout in South Carolina.
Enter the South Carolina National Guard.
Elements of South Carolina National Guard, 4-118th Combined Arms Battalion (CAB) moved to the Chesterfield-Ruby Middle School in the early morning hours of Sept. 16, answering the call to help their neighbors in a time of need.
"Our team's mission was to go out and make sure people's houses weren't flooded and if they did need to evacuate, we would bring them to the high school where the Red Cross could take care of them," said Spc. Matthew Santeramo, of the 4-118th CAB.
Using the unit's high-water Light Medium Tactical Vehicles (LMTVs), Soldiers of the unit conducted route reconnaissance to make sure secondary roads are passible, checked on houses with families in outlying areas that may be in need of assistance, and evacuated people when flood waters made conditions dangerous.
Santeramo said being out checking on their fellow neighbors is critical in a time like this.
"It just ensures their safety more," he said. "I know a lot of people don't want to evacuate because their lives are here, but we are here to make sure they are safe. Just by being out there and double-checking and making sure everything is OK, and evacuating them if need be, it just helps them be safe."
Even though the Soldiers of this unit just completed a full month of training in August at Fort Bliss, Texas, away from their jobs and their loved ones, it's times like these that really motivate them, explained Sgt. 1st Class Jason Gass, 4-118th CAB.
"Deployments are one thing and they are great," said Gass. "But what truly energizes these Soldiers is an opportunity to be out in the community helping their neighbors during an emergency. This is what keeps them in."
For his part, Santaramo says that the South Carolina National Guard is here and will continue to be on duty as long as they are needed in the aftermath of Tropical Storm Florence.
"It's our state, these are our people," said Santaramo. "The South Carolina National Guard takes care of our people.