ARLINGTON, Va.– Roughly 2,300 Guard members in three states are on duty Wednesday responding to severe flooding as a result of heavy rainfall from Hurricane Joaquin.
In hard-hit South Carolina, Soldiers and Airmen with the South Carolina National Guard have been performing a variety of missions. On Saturday, Guard members delivered more than 14,000 sandbags to numerous locations throughout areas affected by flooding.
“With all the rainfall we’ve been getting, these sandbags will go on highways and bridges to ensure that the highway infrastructure stays intact,” said Sgt. 1st Class Joseph Smith, with the South Carolina Army National Guard’s 1050th Transportation Battalion. “The process will probably wrap up Sunday night or Monday morning.”
Soldiers from the South Carolina Army Guard also used UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters to respond to multiple rescue missions over the weekend, said South Carolina Guard officials. Additionally, Guard members have used Humvees and other trucks to transport first responders through high water and also used HEMTT trucks to recover fire trucks stranded in high water areas.
Guard members in South Carolina may be called out to support other missions, including clearing debris, security operations and distribution of food and water.
“I like being able to help the people of South Carolina because I know they need my help,” said Spc. Joshua Monk, with the South Carolina Army Guard’s 1052nd Transportation Company. “We train and prepare for this throughout the year.”
Guard members have also been responding to flood conditions in North Carolina and Virginia as well. In Virginia, Soldiers and Airmen have been providing high water rescue support, chainsaw teams to clear debris and transportation and distribution of water to those in the affected area. Over the weekend, more than 550 Guard members were on duty in Virginia mostly in the Hampton Roads, central Virginia and Shenandoah Valley areas.
“This is awesome for us,” said Army Capt. Kevin Hoffman, operations officer with the Virginia Army Guard’s 2nd Squadron, 183rd Cavalry Regiment. “We get to help out the people that we live with and work with every day, and get to give back to the community.”
Approximately 140 Virginia Guard members remain on duty prepared to assist with high water transport, debris removal and other missions, said Virginia Guard officials.
Over the weekend, Guard members in Maryland were staged along coastal areas, such as Ocean City, with medium tactical vehicles to assist with evacuation of the area. In nearby Delaware, water tankers and other equipment were staged as well.
Members of the New York Guard were busy in Albany and other areas throughout the state clearing debris.
Continued rain could lead to additional flooding in the affected areas and Guard members could be called upon to perform additional high water rescue missions, provide air support, health and welfare checks, transportation and distribution of critical supplies and a variety of other mission sets.