Story by Sgt. Tashera Pravato
COLUMBIA, S.C.— South Carolina National Guard Soldiers and Airmen were activated Oct. 4, 2016 to support their state following the State of Emergency declared by Governor Nikki Haley as Hurricane Matthew threatened to impact the southeast U.S.
Matthew, which had strengthened to a Category 4 storm at its peak, had already taken lives and damaged infrastructure in the Caribbean. The unpredictable storm was projected to move along the coast of Florida and South Carolina, with uncertainty when it would landfall. Weather forecasters predicted conditions along the coast would begin deteriorating beginning Oct. 7.
“The South Carolina National Guard is ready to assist first responders with evacuations and any resources and equipment needed to assist in response to Hurricane Matthew,” said U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Robert E. Livingston., Jr. the adjutant general for South Carolina.
On the first day of activation, 1,460 service members were on the ground, assisting first responders with aerial reconnaissance and traffic control points. The S.C. Highway Patrol said they were manning nearly 700 checkpoints. It is estimated numbers of National Guard troops could go as high as 2,000, depending on Matthews’s path. Units activated include military police, transportation, engineers, general purpose and aviation. Two UH-72 Lakota helicopters and CH-47 Chinook helicopters from the S.C. National Guard’s Donaldson Facility in Greenville, S.C. were flown to Columbia to assist with reconnaissance for highway patrolmen and the coastal evacuation of 1.1 million residents. Lane reversals were scheduled to go into effect Oct. 5 at 3 p.m. in the low country region of the state.
“As South Carolinians, we are strong and we are resilient. Now is the time to finalize your preparations, especially if you live along the coast,” said Livingston. “Please review your family communication plans and be ready if your zone is notified for evacuation,” said Livingston.
Storm updates were being posted on the SCEMD.org website with daily Press Conferences by Gov. Haley and key agency heads, including Livingston.
“We’ve been through winter storms, we’ve been through the thousand-year flood, “said Haley. “Hurricanes are very different and these storm surges are to be taken very seriously. We are strong and I am proud of Team South Carolina. I know we are ready.”