COLUMBIA, S.C. - Approximately 2,000 South Carolina National Guard Soldiers and Airmen were activated and are stationed throughout the Palmetto state as of today in preparation for landfall of Hurricane Florence, figures from the National Guard Bureau show.
Florence quickly intensified from a Category 1 hurricane the morning of Sept. 10 to a Category 4 (winds of 130 mph to 156 mph) hurricane by mid-afternoon. Although the potential track of the hurricane continued to shift to the north, large swaths of South Carolina were still expected to be affected by rain, winds and flooding.
"We are ready and capable," said Maj. Gen. Van McCarty, assistant adjutant general for South Carolina. "We are positioned to respond and are ready to assist the citizens of South Carolina."
As Florence closes in on the Carolinas, residents from Charleston to North Myrtle Beach evacuated their homes Tuesday, moving further inland, after Gov. Henry McMaster directed residents to evacuate coastal areas to get out of harm's way and potential storm surges. To assist the South Carolina Highway patrol with a smooth transition and movement, Guard members were positioned on the roads at traffic control points, assisting local law enforcement with evacuation routes and lane reversals.
"The South Carolina National Guard is on the frontline of support," said U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Robert E. Livingston, the adjutant general for South Carolina. "We have over 1,800 men and women who have answered the call so far to support our partnered agencies. And as the hurricane approaches, we anticipate more support will answer that call to care for the needs of our citizens."
In addition to having Guard members in place before the arrival of Hurricane Florence, Soldiers are also being positioned throughout the state to handle recovery scenarios, like road clearing with engineering equipment and resources to assist residents in returning to their homes once the hurricane has passed and the area is determined to be safe.
"The last time our unit responded to support state active duty for a hurricane, I was very new to the unit and didn't know if there was much I could do to contribute," said Spc. Marcus Owens, 118th Forward Support Company, South Carolina Army National Guard. "Now that I have been in the unit for a couple of years, and have experience, I am excited to be out here supporting."
The South Carolina National Guard is trained and stands ready to serve the citizens of South Carolina and to provide safety, security and support when called upon.
"If you ask a Guardsman, 'Why did you join the Guard,?' they will tell you, 'This is why I do this, for my community," said McCarty.