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NEWS | Oct. 1, 2018

S.C. National Guard prepares for the worst on Sampit River

By Airman 1st Class Cameron Lewis 115th Fighter Wing, Wisconsin Air National Guard

GEORGETOWN, S.C. - More than 60 Soldiers with South Carolina's 125th Multi-Role Bridge Company, out of Abbeville, were mobilized Sept. 11, and continue to provide support to local communities in response to Hurricane Florence and its aftermath.

Guard members still have their work cut out for them. According to the Associated Press, about 6,000 to 8,000 people in Georgetown County, South Carolina, were alerted to be prepared to evacuate ahead of a "record event" of up to 10 feet of flooding expected from heavy rains dumped by Florence, county spokeswoman Jackie Broach-Akers said.

She said flooding is expected to begin Tuesday near parts of the Pee Dee and Waccamaw rivers and that people in potential flood zones should plan to leave their homes Monday.

As a multi-role bridge company, the 125th has helped build HESCO rapid deployment flood barriers, filled, stacked and transported thousands of sandbags, and members are now preparing for bridging operations in the Sampit River here.

"We put up at least a half-mile of HESCOs in Conway, before coming here to prep our equipment for ferry missions," said U.S. Army Sgt. Travell Simpkins, a bridge builder with the 125th MRBC.

If a main supply route were to be shut down, the 125th MRBC would be able to transport both supply and emergency response vehicles across the river, said U.S. Army Spc. Cody Watkins, a bridge crew member with the 125th MRBC.

When the military responds to events like this the service members get to see first hand how each unit is a part of the big picture.

"A lot of us are staying at Georgetown Middle School here," said Sgt. Michelle Green, a medic supporting the 125th MRBC assigned to South Carolina National Guard's Medical Command in Columbia. "Working directly with the MRBC we get to learn what they do and see how the Army comes together and works as a whole."

As Citizen-Soldiers, South Carolina Guard members are able to better understand what local civilians are going through and build an even stronger bond by providing relief and support for the communities within the state.

"We've done just about everything we possibly can to prepare for the possible flooding," said Watkins. "There are boats in the water, float bridges in the water, and flood barriers set up throughout the town. Now we just wait and see what happens."