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N.Y. Air Guard sends personnel and gear for Florence

By Eric Durr and Capt. Michael O'Hagan | New York National Guard | Sept. 13, 2018

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WESTHAMPTON BEACH, N.Y. -The New York Air National Guard's 106th Rescue Wing is deploying 80 personnel, an HC-130 search and rescue aircraft, four Zodiac boats, and one HH-60 Pave Hawk rescue helicopter as part of the nation's Hurricane Florence response.

Based at F.S. Gabreski Air National Guard Base at the eastern tip of Long Island, the 106th is one of three Air National Guard search and rescue wings.

"New York knows first-hand the devastation that extreme weather can leave behind, and we stand ready to help those who are in the path of Hurricane Florence in any way we can," said New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo.

"New Yorkers always help their neighbors in their time of need and just as we have stood shoulder to shoulder with Puerto Rico, Texas and Florida after last year's destructive storms, we will once again stand ready to lend a hand to our fellow Americans," Cuomo said.

The 106th deployed people, boats and aircraft to Texas and Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands following Hurricanes Harvey and Irma in August and September, 2017.

The 106th Airmen were credited with rescuing 546 people in Texas using boats and helicopters and assisting in the airlift of 1,500 Americans from the island of St. Maarten following Hurricane Irma.

Hurricane Florence is expected to come ashore in North Carolina and South Carolina as a Category 2 hurricane (winds of 96-110 mph) with a massive storm surge that will cause flooding. People along the coast have been urged to evacuate.

On Sept. 13, the 106th began deploying personnel and equipment to Dover Air Force Base in Dover, Delaware.

Pararescuemen from the 106th Rescue Wing headed to Dover towing four Zodiac rescue boats. The remaining personnel boarded three HC-130s and headed to Dover on Thursday morning.

One of the HC-130s remained at Dover AFB as part of the response package, while the other two shuttled people and equipment.

The package of 111 people includes pararescue personnel trained in conducting rescues from boats and helicopters, aircrews, maintenance personnel and additional support Airmen.

"This is who we are. This is what we do. We are happy to be able to help," said Col. Michael Bank, the wing commander, about the deployment

"We train all year round to provide this capability and ensure we are ready when needed," Bank added.

Along with the team from the 106th Rescue Wing, the New York National Guard is prepared to deploy four Army National Guard helicopters from the Army Aviation Support Facility at Rochester International Airport.

Two CH-47 Chinook heavy-lift helicopters from Company B 3rd Battalion 126th Aviation Regiment and two medical evacuation helicopters from Company C 1st Battalion 171st General Support Aviation Battalion and their aircrews are on standby to respond if necessary.