RALEIGH — Hurricane Florence slammed into North Carolina with walls of wind and rain, then slowly churned across the border between the Carolinas for three days. Days before hurricane landfall, the North Carolina National Guard and other state’s Guard forces converged on North Carolina in order to be in position and ready to support state and local authorities, once the storm passed.
Currently there are about 3,430 National Guardsmen from 13 states here, of which, 3,100 are from North Carolina.
“This has been an unprecedented mobilization of the NC Guard with almost 2,800 soldiers and airmen on duty prior to landfall”, said Maj. Gen. Greg Lusk. Adjutant General of the NC National Guard. “The impacts of this storm won’t go away any time soon, and our support to our state and its citizens will continue as long as needed.”
NC Guard high-water trucks have rescued independently or in support first responders over 500 people in severely flooded areas of eastern NC. Two NC Guard truck teams alone rescued 230 people in New Bern, as the fast moving flood waters took many residents by surprise.
Over the past four days, Guard trucks and helicopters increased delivery of critical commodities, medicine and other materials locations throughout the eastern part of the state.
Thirteen National Guard states have provided 46 Army helicopters to assist civil authorities in search and rescue, supply transportation, emergency medical evacuations and more. The aviation task force has flown over 120 missions saving over 70 people and dozens pets as well as getting critical supplies and materials to impacted communities.
Hundreds of NC Army Guardsmen currently mobilized for Hurricane Florence had just returned home from a rigorous 25-day annual training exercise at Fort Bliss, Texas. The 30th Armored Brigade Combat Team and it’s seven battalion of 3,400 soldiers were there training on their war-time mission combat skills in preparation for a national training center rotation.
Staff Sgt. Garrett Earhart with NC Army National Guard’s 1-120th Infantry Regiment, based in Jacksonville was one such Guardsmen.
“This is what we do and all my guys know it’s going to be challenging,” said Earhart. “We know we are going to get wet and be uncomfortable and be away from our families for an extended period of time. My wife asked me when am I coming home, and I said, when everyone is safe.”