COLUMBIA, S.C. -- As South Carolina residents and emergency responders prepare for Hurricane Florence, the South Carolina National Guard has mobilized approximately 1,600 Soldiers and Airmen to prepare, respond and participate in advance of this major hurricane projected to make landfall near the Carolinas and the East Coast.
South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster declared a state of emergency Sept. 8, enabling the South Carolina National Guard to activate Guard members to get ready to support first responders and counties.
"We have Guard members preparing throughout the state, ready to meet the requests from our partnered agencies and emergency managers," said U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Robert E. Livingston, the adjutant general for South Carolina. "We are well-positioned with people and as needs increase, we will activate additional Soldiers and Airmen."
Although as of Monday afternoon, Hurricane Florence was a Category 3 hurricane (a storm with winds from 111-129 mph), according to projected models and forecasts, Florence was expected to intensify into a Category 4 hurricane (winds of 130-156 mph). The area of impacts include a wide swath of the eastern coastline, with the greatest impacts anticipated in South Carolina and North Carolina. There are many factors that could change the path and landfall location of Hurricane Florence, but the models agree its intensity is expected to increase.
The South Carolina National Guard regularly trains for emergency events throughout the year. Water purification, lane reversals, high-water rescue, health and welfare checks, and sandbag efforts are all a part of the Guard's abilities to support local and state authorities, and assist the state and its residents during response and recovery efforts.
The South Carolina National Guard has responded to multiple natural disasters over the last several years, including to Hurricanes Matthew and Irma along with support to Texas for Hurricane Harvey and in Puerto Rico for Hurricane Maria. As Citizen-Soldiers and -Airmen and members of the local communities, Guard members are personally connected to these response efforts.
"We are well-prepared to support our neighbors during this event. We continue to urge all South Carolinians to listen to the information from emergency personnel and to not take this storm lightly," said Livingston. "Team South Carolina is ready."