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NEWS | Oct. 3, 2015

South Carolina National Guard responds to historic flood levels

By Lt. Col. Cindi King South Carolina National Guard

COLUMBIA, S.C. - At least 1,300 members of the South Carolina National Guard were on duty Monday to assist local governments in the wake of the historic flooding that has caused at least six deaths in the rain-battered state.

Many believed the threat from Hurricane Joaquin had passed South Carolina after weather experts projected the storm would move far off the East Coast after churning as a Category 4 storm in the Bahamas.

What did follow however, were predictions that the effects from the hurricane compiled with a weather front that had been passing through the Southeast would collide and bring amounts of rain to the Carolinas unlike any in recent history. Because of this, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley declared a state of emergency on Oct. 1, 2015.

“We must take this situation seriously and heed the warnings from public safety officials,” said U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Robert E. Livingston Jr., the adjutant general for South Carolina. “Gov. Haley stated quite clearly, now is the time to finalize your preparations, and then plan on staying home if possible.”

At a gathering of emergency management personnel, at the South Carolina Emergency Management Division in West Columbia, South Carolina, Oct 2., Haley spoke with Livingston to determine Guard assets that would be ready to support county emergency managers and first responders with the anticipated flood response.

The first mission request was for the Guard to assist with the transport of 12,500 sandbags to be delivered to five locations around the state in Columbia, Greenville, Clinton, Chester and Florence.

“We are in good spirits and anticipating any other support requirements in addition to the sandbag deliveries,” said U.S. Army Capt. Stephanie Bear, battle captain, 218th Brigade Support Battalion, in Varnville, South Carolina. “A third of our battalion is working right now, but we will be ready for follow-on missions.”

According to Bear, the unit is prepared to deliver pallets, fuel, additional sandbags, or whatever is needed. She added they are prepared to execute recovery support as the storm passes.

On the first day of state active duty Oct. 2, the South Carolina National Guard had nearly 200 Soldiers and Airmen report to begin support missions, but anticipate the numbers will escalate as the flood waters rise.

“We always hope for the best, but in this case, we must anticipate for the worst because of the large-scale impact this event could have on our state after the rains stop and creeks and rivers continue to overflow from run-off,” said Livingston.